The National Marine Manufacturers Association's board of directors unanimously voted to continue the redirection of Grow Boating funds until June 30, 2010.
Last year, it was agreed that the industry would be better served by redirecting 85 percent of assessments toward efforts designed to increase dealer sales while maintaining some of the Discover Boating campaign's momentum. The other 15 percent would support public relations, DiscoverBoating.com, Marine Industry Dealership Certification, and a few additional core programs.
"The state of the market is such that, with wholesale shipments ... down 70 percent, there just isn't enough funds to create a critical mass for a national advertising campaign," says Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA and Grow Boating Inc. "So it was felt that the manufacturers could use that money more effectively to help their dealers with sales today rather than promoting the lifestyle for future sales.
"All the other aspects of the program are intact and running at full speed," he adds.
Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America and vice president of Grow Boating Inc., says he was unsure how much money dealers were receiving from manufacturers and how successful that push had been.
"I don't know that they did very well, and I don't know if the amount of money was so small that they just didn't want to mess with it," Keeter says. "But that still needs to be done. That's still the way it is, and that's still the way it should progress."
There's no question, however, that the program is still a success, Dammrich says. Marketing efforts include a Discover Boating Facebook page with more than 6,000 "fans," using Twitter to interact with consumers, adding a "social" room with a blog to DiscoverBoating.com, and the "I Discovered Boating" ad contest, which received nearly 300 entries, Dammrich says.
In addition, public relations efforts are continuing, as the NMMA works to get the word out about the boating lifestyle to television producers and editors in hopes they will run stories on boating.
Dammrich says the board is hoping to resume a national ad campaign next year. "I hope that the market has recovered sufficiently by then that it will make sense to do that," he says.
This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue.