A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Where are the TV boat commercials

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of TV commercials touting the new cars, their prices and monthly payments. I appreciated seeing the monthly prices; a concept the boating industry should adopt.Buying an expensive product, such as a boat, could be even more appealing if an ad read something like, with low monthly payments of …, especially in a soft market where consumers are scrutinizing every dollar spent.

The car commercials surely got my attention, and I even thought of trading up. My 2004 Honda Accord rides beautifully, but a newer car looked appealing. Surely, I’d have to do the arithmetic to see if my budget could handle a newer car, but at least the ads got me to take out the calculator. And, of course, I’d have to see what I could get for my car in a trade.

As the editor of Soundings Trade Only, I got to wondering why I didn’t see any ads for boats. Maybe it’s cost prohibitive for boat manufacturers to advertise on TV. But I didn’t want to answer my own question without knowing all the facts.

So here’s your chance to weigh in.


Lois Caliri
Soundings Trade Only




14 comments on “Where are the TV boat commercials

  1. John Strong

    Advertising a niche product like a pleasure boat on broadcast TV is a lot like killing a mosquito with a hand grenade. Comparing it to mass print media, would you expect to see pleasure boats advertised in Newsweek, or People Magazine?

    The cost per eyeball is low, but most TV only works for mass-market products like cars, beer, and anything containing saturated fat or sugar. When broadcasting truly becomes “narrowcasting,” it will be easier to reach niche markets. That’s starting to happen with satellite and web video, but there aren’t many ad agencies out there (yet) putting niche clients and niche video media together.

    And, regarding your own desire for a new car because of the ads you’re seeing, remember the words my old granny (or somebody) said to me:

    “Never eat anything bigger than your head, and NEVER finance anything that DEPRECIATES!”

    Do you wanna build your net worth, or not?? Buy a car second-hand, and pay CASH!

  2. Brian Minton

    My prejudice is up front. We produce Power Boat Television, two boating magazines in Canada and numerous web sites including boattest.ca and boatdealers.ca.

    Television drives more immediate traffic than magazines. We measure traffic to our web sites during and immediately after the television show runs. However, our show is virtually 100% boater audience versus the average television show (10-25% recreational boaters). This increases the cost per thousand on regular television. This can be offset by the impact of sight, sound and motion. The cost of television creative can be expensive.

    Magazines are great for long copy stories with good photography. Environment can be a real plus. They take at least a few weeks to deliver total audience.

    Internet is generally low production cost, short message environment and great audience composition on marine sites. Timing of audience delivery is controllable.

    There is a suitable medium for virtually every advertiser and communication objective. The trick is knowing which one to use for a specific advertising goal.

  3. Susan Wendt

    Just as in buying a new car, a dealer considering to do television advertising requires doing the arithmetic. In a very small market, where television advertising is affordable, and focuses on a small population likely to have a high percentage of boat buyers (seaside town), it makes sense. Television advertising in larger metropolitan markets (an expensive ADI) becomes akin to loading money in a shotgun, firing it off, and hoping to hit something. Auto manufacturers can afford to do this because, well, virtually everyone needs a car..repeatedly over years, but only a smaller percentage of the population purchases a boat. And of course, we’d all love to have the car manufacturer’s Madison Avenue commercial development budgets! The best hope to make a difference is through Grow Boating by creating commercials with the boating lifestyle aimed at regenerating some dormant viewer water genes into actively selecting boating as a recreational passtime. But what about the dealers and manufacturers? Some excellent affordable alternatives for dealers or manufacturers includes direct mail to a targeted audience. With variable printing being able to personalize each piece and content to the recipient, well designed mailers are now garnering amazingly high response rates. It is also affordable for short or low quantity runs. An example? Suppose you were to target new waterfront home buyers (within 30 days) with a personal and exciting mailer, inviting them to visit the dealership, with a small incentive gift for doing so… and do this every month. This is highly targeted, as a large percentage of new waterfront homebuyers purchase a boat within the first six months of home ownership.

  4. Ethan

    The biggest problems is that the industry is composed of hundreds of small manufactures instead of a few big ones. Small companies can’t pay big money for the TV ads. So the NMMA created “grow boating”. Where did all that money go??? I saw two television ads and then they vanished.

  5. Noel Osborne

    Advertising boats on TV can and does work. A number of my dealer clients utilize Cable TV very effectively. They are able to target their prospects through channel selection and demographics. I believe that the Grow Boating program is spending significantly more on TV now than they did in previous years after discovering how effective TV can be.
    Boat builders can also benefit by using cable and I suggest that it would be appropriate for them to consider this avenue if they want to reach more prospects at an affordable price.

  6. Eric Stammer

    My company specializes in Video production for the baoting market . We do technical and owner training videos for people in the Yachting industry. We have also recently had alot of interest in Promotional videos for many brokerage boats. But again, more targeted towards web and DVD based marketing. We are more Niched based as the previous person commented, and have a very solid background in boating.

    Some brokers have done local advertisments in local cable markets on specific channels targeted towards their specific market type of boat.

    As far as monthly payments and price pointing we try and avoid cost in the ads due to brokerage aggreements and the “flexibilty” in cost in what we/they are selling.
    We are trying to sell “the Dream” and “the Lifestyle”.

    But your are right, some manufactures for some reason dont feel it’s a worth while investment. Poss. due to the lower number of units sold, but this depends on boat size, smaller fishing & day boat adds run quite abit down here in Fl. on the outdoor and fishing channels.

  7. Bill Parks

    John Strong is right about niche advertising but if people don’t finance boats we’re all out of business. Besides which, if the boat has a head, stove and bed, the interest can be deducted as if it were a second home.

  8. Anonymous Bob

    The marine industry is still stuck in the woods regarding advertising. We preach to the choir, so to speak, because I rarely, if ever, see any advertising outside the marine industry publications. I subscribe to multiple publications outside of our industry and have never (never, I say) seen an ad for any marine related product or company. How can we expect to “grow boating” if we don’t pursue advertising avenues outside the industry?

    To CC:
    Remember, you have to spend money to make money.

  9. Lois Caliri

    Hi Eric,

    While I appreciate the marketing concept of selling the “Dream” and the “Lifestyle”, you can’t take these concepts to the bank. So if you’re trying to lure new buyers, they deserve to know how much the monthly payments will be. Unless, of course, the goal is to get the buyers into the showroom then disappoint them with sticker shock.

  10. eric stammer

    “Unless, of course, the goal is to get the buyers into the showroom then disappoint them with sticker shock.”

    (to avoid any more of my comments being misunderstood, I will just say this)
    I can assure you that is NEVER my company or clients goal.

  11. HELEN

    Why doesn’t grow boating contact cpmpanies such as gum, kfc, auto, etc to do some combo ads. I think, it could be a win-win.

  12. Rufus T. Firefly

    The grow boating ad with the dogs is an absolute waste. Nothing like rehashing the cutesie ads of the 1980’s. Please someone explain what the pooch has to do with activating the thinking mode from passive alpha to engage beta mode. Too many has been dinosaurs in the trade associations if you ask me.

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