A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Show the life jacket? It’s a no brainer

At this year’s Miami International Boat Show, Suzuki Marine was the proud recipient of the “Show It, Don’t Stow It” Award presented by several very important organizations, including the US Coast Guard, the NMMA, the Florida Fish & Game Commission and the National Safe Boating Council. The award recognized our commitment to include life jackets and pfds in our advertising, catalogs and our show displays.

I guess we were surprised to get an award for simply doing what we thought was the right thing. But we’re proud of the recognition, nonetheless.

You can look back a few years ago when life jackets were nowhere to be seen. Ads featured pretty girls in swimming suits, guys in fishing boats, kids on water skis – everybody was having a great time.

But the reality is a bit different. And the statistics will really get you attention, especially when you realize that 8 out of 10 people who died in a boating accident did not have a life jacket on.

So from our perspective, it was an easy fix. Let’s just show life jacket use and maybe we can do our part to nudge everybody in the right direction. So for the past few years, every picture we take for marketing usage, the people in the photos are wearing some sort of pfd. And our footnote in every ad encourages folks to wear a USCG-approved personal flotation device.

It helps that the manufacturers of life jackets have come up with so many options, so we don’t have to rely on the old orange yoke-styles that everybody remembers from their youth. (Don’t get me wrong, those still work, and they’re great to have on board.) But the new, self-inflating styles are much less obtrusive, more comfortable to wear – more user-friendly, so you can look good and be safe at the same time. All in all, the best pfd is the one that you will wear every time you are on the boat.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that while boating is fun, it also requires everybody involved to pay attention to safety, from the skipper to the mate to the guests on board. We invite everyone in the industry to join us in encouraging the regular use of life jackets.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next winner of the ‘Show It, Don’t Stow It” award!

Dean Corbisier
Suzuki Marine


3 comments on “Show the life jacket? It’s a no brainer

  1. Ted Fagerburg

    Any company which has the courage to go against the current and show PFDs in what are traditionally “non-PFD” photos deserves the award. Congratulations to Suzuki Marine!

    Here in Europe, it is quite common for Scandinavian boat builders to show only pictures of folks wearing PFDs in their product literature. However as you go south, toward warmer water, the battle becomes tougher and tougher. Getting an Italian or Greek company (for example) to show PFDs instead of as much skin as possible is hard nut to crack!

    This was one of my initiatives working for another of the big engine manufactureres a few years ago. Not easy, and I certainly take my hat off to Dean and his crew. And I encourage all boat and engine manufacturers to make the same effort in all markets – not just in North America!

    Ted Fagerburg
    Recreational Marine Consulting

    PS: Don’t forget that in pictures, all drivers should also be wearing safety stop lanyards and looking forward, not aft!

  2. John Wisse

    Outstanding Dean, as was your show display. You no doubt are an industry leader and if we could see your effort as the new boating industry standard — what an accomplishmnet that would be. While many boat dealers simply will not publicly acknowledge such safety considerations as you have aptly demonstrated, there is another industry that once held the same “anti-safety” posture until it changed its attitude back in the 1980s, especially from the manufacturing side. The motorcycle industry has enjoyed more than a dozen consecutive record years of sales until 2007. You’re a trend setter and if more dealers would follow your exceptional industry example Dean, the boating industry would then collectively send the most important message it could to its boating customers and potential customers — “we care”.

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