What do you think of Grow Boating?

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association is giving pretty high marks to the industry’s Grow Boating Initiative so far. After only the first year of the advertising campaign, consumer awareness of Discover Boating rose from 1 in 20, to 1 in 4. There also was a surge in traffic to the re-designed DiscoverBoating.com Web site, with a 250 percent increase at the fiscal year close on Sept. 30, compared to the previous year. The Web site drew more than 1.6 million visits from March through September 2006, with May and June seeing peak traffic.

What’s more, a study conducted by Russell Research found the campaign successful at getting new people to consider boating. The study showed a 6 percent increase in those shopping for a boat.

The NMMA has said all along that the boat buying process often takes about three years from the time a prospective buyer first considers the possibility to when a purchase is actually made. But while it may be too early to measure Grow Boating’s impact on boat sales, NMMA obviously is quite proud of the goals the initiative has achieved so far.

We would be interested in hearing what others in the industry have to say about Grow Boating’s progress. For those who supported the campaign from the beginning, do these numbers reaffirm your original views? Do you think the campaign should be expanded?

For the skeptics out there, does the Grow Boating report card change your mind at all? And for all of those who were at the special presentation in Miami this past February, what do you think of the Discover Boating commercials?

When the NMMA unveiled the first two commercials last year, the TV spots were met with mixed reviews. Still, most recognized the need to move forward rather than spend too much time fine-tuning the ads – time the industry obviously does not have. As it turns out, “The Wave” commercial resonated well with consumers. The grocery shopping one has been replaced with a new ad featuring man’s best friend. Titled, “Dogs need weekends too,” the 30-second spot shows various scenes of dogs having fun on their owner’s boats.

Do you think Grow Boating officials made the right selections this time around?

Melanie A. Winters

Associate Editor

Soundings Trade Only