MIAMI: New Discover Boating campaign debuts

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The next phase of the Discover Boating campaign reaches out directly to boaters and asks them to get personally involved in growing boating.

"Welcome to the Water" is an invitation from boaters to non-boaters to join them on the water and see what the boating lifestyle is all about. And once they've experienced the thrill, fun and freedom of boating, the hope is they'll be buying boats.

With the Grow Boating campaign back in full swing, industry officials are looking for new ways to reach out to the public. The focus for the next two years is to drive awareness among non-boaters, leverage the experience of current boaters to draw in new prospects and increase the quality and quantity of leads, Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said Wednesday during a seminar on "moving forward" prior to today's opening of the Miami International Boat Show.

The "Welcome to the Water" campaign includes a video showing the faces of boating - a montage of smiling, laughing and happy people clearly enjoying their time on the water.

It also will include a Facebook component that allows boaters to send electronic invitations to friends and family, inviting them to spend a day on the water. The site will display a running tally of the number of people who have gone boating, as well as the number of boating days.

As an added incentive, boaters will be recognized for bringing people into boating. They can increase their "status" on the site as they welcome more people to the water.

Discover Boating's Facebook page has nearly 40,000 followers. Dammrich expects that number to double or triple in the coming months as the new campaign is launched.

In addition to the Facebook initiative, enhancements will be made to the Discover Boating website. It will become "mobile friendly," including added personalization, a downloadable DVD and a "Get Off Your Dock" guide.

"This is not just an advertising campaign," Dammrich said. "It's really about creating a movement for boating. We're very excited about the new direction."

— Beth Rosenberg