Discover Boating Spreads Viral Marketing in 2007

From the beginning, we have stressed the fact that Discover Boating marketing campaign is more than just advertising. Don’t get me wrong — it’s wonderful to flip on the television and see our Discover Boating TV spots appear on The History Channel, or to read an article in Popular Mechanics and spy Discover Boating ads on the opposing page. That level of exposure proves we’re reaching a wide audience, many of whom match our target demographic of potential boaters.

But no matter how much we love the ads, it’s critical to remember the campaign extends far beyond those television, print and online executions; Discover Boating employs a fully integrated marketing approach, including public relations efforts, event marketing, collateral materials, including the “Get Started in Boating” DVD and more. One of the most significant changes we’ve made to beef up our integration strategy in 2007 is the incorporation of viral marketing into the Discover Boating mix. Our first attempt features a short film entitled “Good Run,” which highlights the life of a boater as he reflects on his many fond memories aboard a boat. The film embraces consumers’ love of cinema and the movies, while at the same time emphasizing celebration of the boating lifestyle.

Underwritten by a contribution from General Motors, Good Run was directed by Hollywood cinematographer Wally Pfister. Pfister has photographed more than 25 feature films throughout his career and is probably best known for his work on “Insomnia,” “The Italian Job,” “Batman Begins” and “The Prestige.” Pfister earned back-to-back Academy Award nominations in cinematography for both “Batman Begins” and “The Prestige” (2005 and 2006) and a nomination in the Short Film category for “Sen-Zen-Ni-Na” in 1991. He was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for the critically-acclaimed 2000 thriller “Memento.”

“Good Run” was placed on several Web sites, including YouTube, Yahoo and Google Video, as well as, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s 23 consumer boat show Web sites. Millions of e-mails were sent out with links to the film online, in the hopes that one consumer sees the e-mail and then passes it along to his or her circle of friends, and so on. We also encourage all industry stakeholders to include a link to “Good Run” on their respective Web sites. Future viral marketing possibilities include cross promotional efforts with General Motors, “video on demand” opportunities and countless others. We want as many prospective boaters as possible to see the film, and we’re committed to making this happen via one of the most powerful communications tool we have — the Internet.

Our challenge as we move forward with Discover Boating in 2007 is to find new ways of spreading its message across our target audience. With more consumers gaining access to high-speed internet connections than ever before, we anticipate this high-impact, low-cost tactic will continue to play a significant role in future campaign plans.

— By Carl Blackwell, vice president of Marketing & Communications for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

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