NMMA today announced that Carl Blackwell, its longtime chief marketing officer and president of Discover Boating, has decided to step down. The move comes as the Discover Boating campaign reaches key milestones and hits its stride in attracting new boaters to the boating lifestyle. The association has tapped Ellen Bradley, NMMA chief communications officer, to lead both marketing and communications. Blackwell will remain onboard through the end of March to ensure a smooth transition.
Blackwell oversaw the launch of Discover Boating more than sixteen years ago and is credited with driving the campaign’s success and building NMMA’s preeminent marketing team.
“Carl’s determination in establishing Discover Boating as a leading national consumer lifestyle brand has no doubt put boating on the map as a preferred choice in outdoor recreation,” noted NMMA president, Frank Hugelmeyer. “He’s been tireless in guiding NMMA’s marketing while building the best team in the business, leaving behind an impactful legacy.”
“In my more than 16 years guiding NMMA marketing and Discover Boating, I’ve been energized by the work, but more importantly, the people,” said Blackwell. “We’ve built a tremendous team that’s been able to get Discover Boating to a place where it’s doing exactly what it should—attracting new boaters and getting them excited about being on the water—meaning it’s time for me to leave it in the team’s hands. NMMA is beginning to chart many new paths and after sixteen years, this is the right time for me to step back, take a break and find my next challenge. Being onboard through the end of March allows us to ensure a smooth transition and just so happens to coincide with when I can get my boat out of storage for spring.”
In 2019, Discover Boating websites attracted nearly 4.5 million visits, sending 2.3 million referrals to manufacturer websites, an increase of 9 percent over 2018. Additionally, as part of a 2019 website optimization effort, Discover Boating created new content that helped it place in the coveted top position across search engines; it generated national attention in top tier media with strategic PR campaigns; and aligned with influencers, broadening its reach and impact among its target demographic.
In addition to his Discover Boating leadership, Blackwell leaves NMMA having propelled the association’s boat show marketing into the most robust, integrated and effective in the association’s history, helping attract millions of consumers over the years. During this time, Blackwell oversaw the creation of more than 275 boat show marketing plans.
Prior to launching Discover Boating and his role at NMMA, Blackwell was executive director of marketing for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, best known for its “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign. Blackwell began his career working for several top foodservice and consumer goods companies in marketing capacities as well as a stint with an advertising agency.