NSAA Releases USFS Ad/Sponsorship Policy

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SAM Magazine--May 15, 2013--In its Capital Watch newletter, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) announced the following: The Forest Service issued the long awaited advertising and sponsorship policy this week. In addition to Monday’s Federal Register Notice on the policy, there is a Directive from the Forest Service Manual and a Q&A document interpreting the policy, all of which are posted on NSAA’s website (www.nsaa.org) in the USFS section. The new policy for public land resorts is not an overhaul of existing policy, but is enough of a change to remove or alter some revenue opportunities that resorts have relied on in the past. Generally speaking, the policy is narrower and more specific than the previous policy.

Here are some highlights on the new policy: Interior space advertising is still fine, including inside buildings, gondolas, buses and other vehicles. Advertising for short term competition/events (limit 21 days) is still permissible, but sponsorship recognition at events is limited to sponsor names and trademarks. Advertising of services offered by the permittee is permitted as long as it identifies the name and location only, and does not include the names of other companies or product descriptions, trademarks or taglines. Sponsored vehicles with logos other than the permit holder’s are not allowed for on permit operations except in conjunction with short term events. (This could be a problem as many ski areas have vehicle sponsors.) Chairlift-based ads on bars are still fine as long as there is a map included and the advertising does not exceed 33% of the surface area of the panel (existing products such as MapLinks already comply with this requirement). Sponsorships must promote public interest and participation in management of NFS lands, promote conservation awareness or promote public health or safety. Sponsorship recognition should be no larger than necessary to be visible at pedestrian scale and should be consistent with the USFS Built Environment Image Guide. (Pages 40, 41 and 261 of the Guide give specifics on signage and the Guide can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/beig/). Facilities such as trail map bulletin boards and directional signing are considered basic elements of a ski area’s operations, and are therefore not appropriate for sponsor recognition. Race courses and terrain parks may only recognize sponsorship at the start and finish points of the course or park, and these courses and parks must be identified in an MDP or Operating Plan accepted or approved by the authorized officer.

Public land resorts should spend some time with the Directive, Q&A document and the Sample Sponsorship Plan document included in the Directive to assess how these changes might impact your contracts with sponsors and advertisers. The policy provides that non-conforming ads or sponsorships currently under contract can stay in place until the end of the current contract, but after that must be removed. NSAA is interested in getting feedback from ski areas on how the policy will affect their revenues and how they may shift or alter their sponsorship contracts creatively to conform to the new policy. It is important to note that this is a final policy, as the agency already collected comments on the policy in 2006.