NMMA stresses benefits of boating

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Marketing campaign to expand boating’s draw touts better-quality boats and service

Now that certification of boatbuilders and dealers is becoming a reality, marine manufacturers are ponying up $12 million to entice more buyers into the showroom and promote industry certification to boaters as a mark of safer, better-quality boats and service.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association board of directors voted in May to assess its more than 400 member boatbuilders and engine manufacturers about 25 cents per unit of horsepower for every boat and engine they sell in 2006 — $1 for a boat with a 4-hp engine, $72 for a yacht powered by an engine of more than 300 hp.

NMMA president Thom Dammrich says that should raise $14 million — $12 million to buy television and print ads to tell the public that boating is good, wholesome fun, and $2 million to promote certification, fund dealer certification, and buy Internet and point-of-sale advertising. Dammrich, speaking at a May 31 Marine Industries Association of South Florida lunch, says the assessment will fund most of the $16 million NMMA has budgeted for its 2006 Grow Boating campaign.

Dammrich says the marketing campaign will address the major reasons people choose to go boating: to spend quality time with family and friends, relax, go fishing, spend time outdoors, and regain control of their lives. It also will address major reasons that people hold back on buying a boat — concerns about the quality of boats and dealer service, and the cost, hassle and time involved in boat ownership. He says the advertising will stress the benefits of the boating lifestyle and attempt to dispel notions about the hassles of owning a boat. “But we’ve got to deliver on our promises,” he says.

Dammrich says NMMA’s certification program will have teeth. Inspectors will visit builders and dealers regularly to make sure they meet standards. If they don’t, they lose their certification. A boatbuilder would lose its NMMA membership.

He says the industry also appointed a task force to begin addressing issues of access — for example, the loss of boat ramps, marina slips and anchorages as more and more waterfront becomes gentrified and luxury high-rises replace boating facilities.

“This is a long-term plan over a number of years,” says Dammrich. “We want to draw people into boating and keep them in boating.”