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Understanding “Welcome to the Water” (Part 1)

I don’t know how to say this in any stronger way: Every dealer should set aside time Wednesday to attend a very important webinar (link below). Here’s why:

A record one billion impressions for boating! That’s the target for the 2012 “Welcome to the Water” campaign and the subject of the webinar. It is the industry’s newest national marketing offensive — an impressive campaign that’s been crafted to focus on three objectives: building boating awareness, boating participation and qualified boat sales leads.

Officially called the “Discover Boating 2012 Marketing Plan,” the webinar will unveil the latest details of the integrated marketing program slated for the prime boating season beginning now. It includes extensive digital advertising, expanded social media and new public relations initiatives involving avid boaters like Phillies pitching ace Roy Halladay and fishing great Kevin VanDam, for example.

For all dealers, what’s important is understanding how the ever-expanding campaign will work, what improvements are expected, and especially what new materials are available for dealers. Listening in on the 45-minute webinar will open these doors.

If I seem enthusiastic about the “Welcome to the Water” effort, I am. It’s because I had the chance to spend three days observing the Discover Boating crew shooting new video and photography on Boca Ciega Bay (saltwater sailing, cruising and fishing) and Lake Tarpon (freshwater wakeboarding, pontoons and family runabouts) in early March. I was glad to see an increased emphasis on ethnic diversity, clearly a look to the future for our industry. But it was the talent of those behind the cameras, and the incredible video and photography they produced for this year’s expanded campaign, that was so impressive.

In fact, the NMMA’s Carl Blackwell and the Olson Agency’s Katy Ramme successfully recruited an all-star team to do the shoot. Videographer Mark Rackley and photographer Jim Gallop are true boating enthusiasts. Rackley is widely known in TV for his wildlife footage including Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.” Gallop is the digital photographer called by major brands including BMW, Mercedes, Bombardier and Anheuser-Busch, among many others. They both know boating from the “inside” and captured that excitement in their lenses.

These guys were also fearless. For example, for some wakeboarding video, Rackley was treading water with his camera while calling for a wakeboarder to become airborne off the wake, fly directly over his head and splash down just inches behind him. He called for a dozen or more takes and kept us praying the wakeboader wouldn’t land on Rackley’s head since once the wakeboarder was airborne he had little control over where he landed. Rackley survived and his video is the stuff that garners awards.

The webinar will highlight many of the ways “Welcome to the Water” will be promoted and distributed. For example, how the 500,000 boating fans on Facebook will be expanded with an exciting new movie-maker app; or how powerful online boating videos will run prior to viewing popular online news sites; and how new banners will reach millions of consumers through hundreds of targeted websites like,,, and dozens of others.

Bottom line: If you, as the dealership principal, can’t attend Wednesday’s webinar, assign a member of the staff to attend and report back to you and the rest of your team. Remember, “Welcome to the Water” is the campaign that unites our industry’s efforts to make boating the recreation of choice in the future. There is too much at stake to ignore this.

Webinar: Wednesday, May 16 at 1 p.m. (EST). Technology limits space, so pre-register now at



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