Grow Boating to consider future of industry marketing campaign

BOCA GRANDE, Fla. – The Marine Retailers Association of America has asked the Grow Boating board to halt the redirection of engine assessment funds, which were formerly used for a national campaign to promote boating but are currently being redirected to boat builders to assist their dealers.

The MRAA offered a motion made by their board of directors to the Grow Boating board during an April 23 meeting. The motion asks that full funding be restored to the Grow Boating program, and the Grow Boating board was asked to pass the motion onto the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Boat Manufacturers Board at their meeting on May 5 in Washington, D.C.

In response, Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said he expected the issue would be thoroughly and thoughtfully discussed at Wednesday’s meeting, but he could not predict what the outcome of the discussions will be.

As a practical matter, Dammrich said there must be sustained growth in new boat and engine sales to support the promotional effort.

“To return to a full blown promotional program for the 2011 boating season, it would be on a smaller scale than we experienced from 2006 to 2008 with industry sales still significantly depressed,” he said.

MRAA’s motion was supported by all the dealer members attending the Grow Boating Board Meeting including: Alan Bohling, Seattle Boat Co.; Rod Malone, Sail & Ski Centers; David Witty, MarineMax; Scott MacCrimman, Ed Huck Marine Ltd.; and Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center.

“The Grow Boating/Discover Boating marketing program had exceptional results,” MRAA said in the release. “Seventeen percent of the people requesting Discover Boating DVDs purchased a boat a recent study revealed. MRAA feels the time has come to restore this program and put it back on its original course.”

Dammrich said if the program returns, it will take some time to ramp up, but NMMA has begun the process of working with the Grow Boating Board of Directors.

“The research, assumptions, strategies and messaging done 5-6 years ago is likely no longer valid given the changes we have experienced in the past two years,” Dammrich said. “It is a bit like starting over to do the research, hire an agency, develop the strategies, prepare the plans and messaging and sell the new plan to the industry again. The Grow Boating Board has formed two task forces, one on marketing planning and research and one on funding, that have begun the work that needs to be done to move forward whether it be in 2011 or 2012.”

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