Mercury Marine is teaming with Chicago Bears linebacker Willie Young for a media event June 1 at DuSable Harbor in downtown Chicago.
The company will have several boats in the water equipped with the latest technology, including joystick piloting and Skyhook.
“Willie is authentic,” Mercury Marine spokesman Lee Gordon told Trade Only Today. “When he’s in town, he’ll come up to Mercury and just hang out. He’ll tell us he’s got an hour, and then he’ll spend four hours walking around and talking to everyone.”
Young has five boats, including one that he built with his father, and often says he plays football to support his fishing and boating habit.
“He just loves getting out on the water, and he loves talking about engines and horsepower and boats,” Gordon said.
The purpose of the event is to promote the brand, but also to grow the industry, Gordon said. Having a celebrity like Young adds excitement for local media, which have already responded overwhelmingly to the event.
The Bears’ website, chicagobears.com, also will feature the event, which Gordon said will put boating in front of new eyes.
“It’s going to bring the message of boating and reach places we’ve never even dabbled in before,” he said. “They’re having a segment about boating and Mercury on chicagobears.com, and we never would’ve thought about that. When we list our top 10 places we want to be, that’s not at the forefront of what we’re thinking. But that we have such a strong advocate in Willie, that’s an enormous reach that doesn’t just go to Chicago.”
“If we [as the boating industry] don’t start expanding and we don’t start trying to figure out what’s next, we’re going to start running out of people to talk to,” Gordon said. “They’re out there. We’ve just got to find them.”
Young has been a longtime Mercury advocate. He lives in Palm Beach, so he makes a point of attending every Miami International Boat Show. “He stays all day,” Gordon said. “There was a point in time that I asked him if he wanted a Mercury shirt because it was almost like he was working for us.”
“Whenever I talk to him, he’s out on the water or out in the garage building this boat with his dad,” Gordon added. “He’ll call because he wants to talk to the prop guys because the pitch on his propeller is off. He is legitimately the most passionate boater I’ve ever met, and I’m not even just saying that.”
Mercury Marine is adding two events this spring and summer after last year’s summer media event in New York City was so popular and reached millions of non-boaters.
In a style similar to Discover Boating events that tempt non-boating industry media and mom bloggers to hop on boats and gush either live or later to readers and viewers about the experience, Mercury Marine was not debuting a product when it lured members of the non-boating media to MarineMax’s Chelsea Piers location last August.
This summer the company will hold another event in New York on Aug. 8.