NEW YORK — Mercury Marine held an event in New York on Tuesday that focused on showcasing boating to media outlets that are outside the recreational marine industry.
This was the second year in a row that Mercury has done the event out of MarineMax at Chelsea Piers in New York, and it held another similar event in Chicago on June 1. The company is planning to add more events in additional locations next year, Mercury spokesman Lee Gordon said.
The New York event was not timed in conjunction with new-product debuts, and it even involved Mercury president John Pfeifer touting boat clubs and peer-to-peer options to a millennial-focused outlet — not a typical industry event.
This year the event attracted 22 news outlets, compared with 10 last year, Gordon said.
“This is a great centralized location so we can get in front of a lot of different journalists,” Erik Christiansen, general manager of Mercury Racing, told Trade Only at the event.
Media outlets that attended included Fox News, Cosmo, Men’s Health, Car and Driver, Seventeen Magazine and Cheddar, an outlet that bills itself as “a live post-cable network focused on covering the most innovative products, technologies and services transforming our lives.”
The outlets covered aspects of the industry that included millennials in boating, family outings on the water, technology and speed.
“A lot of the journalists who aren’t from boating media don’t know what to expect at all, and they’re completely blown away” by the technology, said David Foulkes, vice president of product development for Mercury engineering and racing.
One boating industry reporter who brought her family tested that theory with her 10- and 12-year-old children, who caught on quickly to the joystick control during brief tests at the helm of a 32-foot Scout LXF with twin 350 Mercury Verados.
Clifford Atiyeh, a freelance writer who was there for Car and Driver, drove a boat for the first time at the event, taking a turn at the helm of a 32-foot Boston Whaler Vantage with twin 350s.
Atiyeh and his two colleagues were impressed by features such as Skyhook, a virtual anchor system that runs off GPS, as well as the joystick controls, all demonstrated by Boston Whaler vice president Jeff Vaughn, who served as the captain during that outing.
Atiyeh also was among many who did not think the engines had been turned on because they were so quiet.
“Like last year, there was a lot of ‘Wow, I didn’t know this kind of technology existed,’ ” Gordon said after the event. “Also a lot of ‘When are you turning the engines on?’ when they were already on, not realizing how quiet the Verados really are.”
Cheddar broadcast a live 10-minute spot from the Hudson River in front of the Empire State Building on a Harris Grand Mariner powered by twin 350s, conducting an interview with Pfeifer that focused on millennials in boating.
Trade Only and one of the Cheddar videographers were on a Cigarette with quad 350s, which was being used as a chase boat for the Harris so the news outlet could get some wide shots.
“While boat ownership among millennials might be down a bit, boating participation among millennials is really healthy,” Pfeifer said during the segment. “There are more avenues than there ever have been before for millennials to participate in boating without being a boat owner,” such as boat clubs and peer-to-peer models.
“Anything that gets people on the water, that gets people on a boat to enjoy it, that’s great news for Mercury Marine and the business we’re in,” Pfeifer said.
Fox News focused its coverage on speed and technology, doing two live spots with reporter Gary Gastelu piloting the Outerlimits SV43, which has twin 1350 Mercury Racing engines and holds the record as the fastest boat.
“The boat industry [is] back after bottoming out in 2010,” Gastelu said during the morning spot. “They sell about a quarter of a million powerboats in the United States every year, and 95 percent of them are made in the United States — this one comes from Rhode Island.”
Read more about the event in the September issue of Soundings Trade Only magazine.