HoliMont rolled out a catchy slogan, "Play Hooky at HoliMont," on two billboards to try to attract more weekday skiers.
What the Ellicottville ski area didn't take into account was the location of one of the billboards: across Route 219 from the Ellicottville Central School District campus.
"It was just a clear oversight," said Dave Riley, HoliMont's general manager.
School officials brought the issue to HoliMont's attention and suggested the billboard sent the wrong message about the value of school attendance to students. Riley agreed, apologized, and is changing it.
The billboard, created by HoliMont's advertising agency, Cenergy Communications in East Aurora, was aimed at adults, Riley said. "The skier that is on there is a businessman with a tie, not a kid."
But Riley agreed with school officials and educators that a billboard promoting "playing hooky," across from a school campus, could be misconstrued.
He apologized in a letter to Ellicottville educators and the school board, saying HoliMont wasn't trying to undermine efforts to promote student attendance and punctuality.
The billboard across from the school campus is one of two in the area advertising that HoliMont, a private ski club, is open to nonmembers on weekdays. The fate of the other billboard, in Springville, has not been determined.
The letter from Ellicottville school district educators and board members to HoliMont's board didn't call for HoliMont replace the billboard. Instead, the letter explained the district's concerns and asked the ski area to carefully consider future messages it put up across from the campus.
"The placement of this particular message across from an educational institution allows casual observers to 'infer' the message is in some way directed toward the general student population due to the billboard's close proximity to the school campus," the letter said.
Riley said he knows teachers have a tough job: His wife teaches in another district. "They put a lot of hours in, and are trying to instill values into students," he said.
HoliMont is working on a replacement billboard with Cenergy and should have it up by the second week of December, Riley said.