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Embracing the ‘unbundling’ of media

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Since its inception three years ago, Flashpoint’s founding partners, Lesley Christoph and Drew Bedford have been trying to manage their marketing company’s growth. Most recently, it made the move from Prospector Square to Bear Hollow Village, an area largely thought of as a residential development.

It’s an unlikely choice with the exception of the fact that Bedford suspects the location will soon become a nexus of marketing and outdoor product design companies. Their neighbors include RSD, a product design company, and Media Skills, a broadcast media company.

Bedford and Christoph see the larger Park City community emerging as increasingly more visible to the outside world as a legitimate mountain lifestyle hub, especially now that Rossignol is expected to move its headquarters to Newpark this year.

"More and more clients are becoming aware of Park City as a mountain town," Bedford observes. "And I think they are beginning to realize that it’s difficult to get an authentic, end-user voice from Madison Avenue."

Flashpoint’s clients include companies in the hospitality industry, such as Salt Lake-area restaurants Log Haven and Metropolitan. But the majority of companies they work with make outdoor products,. The growing list features LOWA Boots, Suunto sports instruments, Stonewear Designs and Shock Doctor athletic insoles. Flashpoint has also created and designed interactive Internet content for 3point5, an online sales training company. Projects for 3point5 include Teva, GORE-TEX, The North Face and Suunto.

Bedford and Christoph, who have both lived in Park City for well over a decade, notice that there is a new mountain lifestyle that has emerged. It’s no longer simply a pursuit of mountain biking or skiing. It’s the ability to get more out of those sports with new technology, such a as tracking your heart rate while hiking or tracking your position with a GPS watch, Bedford observes.

"You can still choose to leave a cell phone at home, but part of the new mountain lifestyle has to do with people looking to maximize their performance in their brief play time. The long backpacking trip is virtually unheard of now. People are more likely to go for a trail run in the morning or a bike ride in the afternoon," adds Christoph.

Bedford and Christoph admit the service they offer to their clients is not easily labeled. Their field has evolved into something of a hybrid, especially as new technology, such as the Internet can convey video, text and audio to audiences. A moving-image introduction to a Web site can now function like a 30-second television ad, notes Bedford.

"The term ‘ad agency’ doesn’t apply to a lot of companies like us that go beyond ads. That’s just a subset of what we do," he explained. "A lot of what we do is a reaction to the unbundling of media."

Bedford says that, in the past, advertising was a matter of purchasing time on television or radio and marketing a product. The ‘unbundling’ is a result of technologies like iPods and DVRs that allow people to create their own media. Ads now are more effective if they direct a consumer to learn more on the Internet.

Christoph adds that the current concept of advertising is less about directly trying to sell a product and more about keeping a continuous loop of dialogue between companies and consumers, creating what she calls a "loyalty circle."

"It’s about having an ongoing conversation, and it’s something that marketers have known for a long time, but then the Internet came along and made it so much easier," she says.

While Flashpoint has experience in television, radio and print, and is capable of assisting companies with public relations and branding, it also helps companies launch audio and video podcasts. Bedford and Christoph chose the name Flashpoint to suggest that just as elements will become heated to the point of combustion, or flashpoint, when their company works on projects they strive to "ignite the idea."

Flashpoint’s offices are located at 5532 Lillehammer Lane, Suite 207. For more information, contact http://www.flashpointonline.com or call 658-1475.


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