Denver’s Cactus Takes Surreal Approach In New Discover Vail Campaign


By The Denver Egotist / /

Deliberately avoiding the tourism/travel branding cliches that too often are long on beautiful imagery but short on concept, the new campaign for Discover Vail, created by Cactus, avoids well-worn tropes of the category. Instead, the campaign delights in the surreal vision of Vail as a place filled with wonder yet somehow known only to a few. The ad campaign broke on March 27, during the Oscars Red Carpet Special.

“This work changes the narrative of mountain Travel and Tourism,” Jeff Strahl, Creative Director, says. “It’s a shift that blends style and fashion with an iconic destination, with one very important purpose. The campaign is a reminder to play, and enjoy life, and do it now.”

‘Life Is But A Dream’ unapologetically leans into Vail’s heritage and uses the metaphor for how you feel when you’re here to tell the story of Vail as a dream-like experience. The spot opens with an elegantly dressed couple perfectly framed within the terrace that overlooks the picturesque mountains of Vail. As their hands touch, they miraculously leave their feet and are whisked on a wondrous aerial tour, replete with breathtaking drone shots of lush forests, crystal clear lakes and the Bavarian-inspired architecture that makes Vail unlike any other mountain destination.

“For years we’ve shown mountain biking, hiking and paddleboarding, which are incredible here in Vail, but those are not the only things that define us,” Esmarie Faessler, Board Chair, Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council who manages Discover Vail, says. “We are foundationally different than our neighbors and love how ‘Life is But a Dream’ expresses our unique architecture and the feeling you have when you’re in our distinct villages.”

Agency: Cactus, Denver, CO
ECD: Brian Watson
Creative Director: Jeff Strahl
ACD / Art Director: Matt Chiabotti
Senior Art Director: Kay Borleis
Junior Writer: Sam Herriges
VP, Account Leadership: Ainslie Fortune
Sr. Account Manager: Heather Vazza
Account Manager: Lauren Scutt
Senior Project Manager: Helen Shabinsky
Project Manager: Jordan Leet
Production Director: Brooke Woodruff
Executive Producer: Martha Douglas
Executive Producer: Erin BonSalle
Senior Producer: Carol Williams

Production Company: Naked City, New York
Director: Brent Bonacorso
DP: Nic Restrepo
DP / Drone Pilot: Robert McEnaney
EP: Mark Sitley & David Schmidt
Line Producer: Danny Taff

Editorial: Jack Pyland
Flame Artist: Nic Seresin
FX Editorial: Christopher Broe

Post: No.1 Color, New York, NY
Colorist: Stuart Wheeler

Music: Q Department, New York
Senior Producer: Jon Mackey
Creative Director: Zack Rice


  1. Ned Flanders April 15, 2022

    Perfume advertising at its best.

  2. Robert Jennings April 18, 2022

    Beautiful white people floating around. Ugh. I wish a hunter had shot them down. Cliched, boring and bland – but maybe for Vail, that’s what they want.

  3. David Nichols April 22, 2022

    Damn, That’s a lot of agency producers for one execution.

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