Redirection of Grow Boating funds finds support

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Industry leaders are voicing their support for the recent decision to postpone a national advertising campaign and redirect Grow Boating assessments to the manufacturer and dealer levels.

“I’m 100 percent for it,” Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, told Soundings Trade Only. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”

The National Marine Manufacturers Association announced yesterday that its board of directors voted unanimously to redirect assessments to support immediate sales-driving efforts at the retail level. Boatbuilders who sign a pledge to follow certain criteria will get an 85 percent credit on assessments they’re supposed to submit for the Grow Boating campaign.

Keeter, an early proponent of a national advertising campaign, said the change is necessary given the ongoing slump in marine sales. He said it’s more important in today’s climate for dealers to get their product out the door.

“I’m disappointed we aren’t going to have as much money as we had before, but we can’t change that,” said Keeter. “It’s all just a reflection of the times.”

Irwin Jacobs, chairman of Genmar Holdings, agreed.

“This is not a time for generic marketing,” he said.

Jacobs had originally opposed the idea of a national advertising campaign, arguing several years ago that manufacturers can do a better job of marketing their own product. He eventually came around to support Grow Boating after other industry leaders convinced him of the value of a national campaign.

Given the current state of the economy, however, he said a national campaign “hasn’t been a high priority.”

Jacobs said Genmar has “lots of plans” of how to use the assessment money to help drive sales at the dealer level, but he declined to provide specifics.

Keeter had some suggestions of how manufacturers could help their dealers, such as demo days, retail promotions and more co-op support for boat shows.

“I’m anxious to see what innovative ways they [manufacturers] use this to help the dealers,” he said.

— Melanie Winters
m.winters@tradeonlytoday.com

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