Boating Industry Banking On Evangelists


As the summer boating season gets underway, the recreational marine industry wants to sell leisure-seekers on the experience of boating.

In a digital and social campaign launching this summer, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the trade association representing boat, marine engine and accessory manufacturers, takes a look at boating through the eyes of the sport's enthusiasts, hoping to turn them into evangelists.

"Our job is to leverage the passion and experiences of current boaters to draw new boaters to the sport," Carl Blackwell, chief marketing officer at the National Marine Manufacturers Association (which manages the industry's "Discover Boating" marketing initiative), tells Marketing Daily.

One aspect of the campaign from Minneapolis agency Olson, which carries the tag "Welcome to the Water," is a Facebook "invitation planner" through which boaters can invite non-boaters for an outing, providing tips and ideas about how to maximize the boating experience. Discover Boating will use prize incentives, such as coolers, gift certificates and other merchandise to encourage use of the Facebook application.



A digital video shows the facial expressions of boaters -- ranging from serene to excited to overjoyed -- and performing a variety of activities, from waterskiing to fishing to simply relaxing. A voiceover explains that boating "washes away" whatever you are when you're not on the water. "Whatever you are on land, you take that step and become a part of something else," it says.

"When you're on the land looking at a boat, that's a really different mindset than when you're on the water," Blackwell says. "We're promoting the lifestyle. We think that's a really strong draw."

Selling boating as a lifestyle decision is a different tack for the group, which previously used its name, Discover Boating, as its tagline. "We didn't really have a theme beyond our brand," Blackwell says. "Our difference this year is we're leveraging our enthusiasts to be evangelists."

The digital campaign will run on sites appealing to outdoor enthusiasts and places where people look to find weather information, which is a key component of reaching boaters, Blackwell says. "Weather [sites] tend to convert as much as search for us," he says.

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