Russo Marine customers vie to save a boatload

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A multichannel promotion revs up traffic to Russo Marine's showroom
A multichannel promotion revs up traffic to Russo Marine's showroom

The Offer: In order to steer more traffic to its Massachusetts showroom in the lead up to Memorial Day, New England-based powerboat retailer Russo Marine brought aboard radio broadcasting company Entercom Communications Corp. to craft a special campaign for Boston-area radio listeners, who were given the chance to buy one of its best-selling fiberglass speedboats for half price.

The Data: The retail price of a Bayliner 175 Bowrider is $24,688; the winner was able to snag one for $12,500. After the sale went live at noon on May 23, the boat sold in 45 seconds. According to Entercom Boston's marketing director Bill Alfano, the $40,000 media campaign improved both Web and foot traffic for Russo Marine.

The Channel: Entercom leveraged, its regional daily deals-like revenue sharing platform, to promote the seven-day integrated initiative, which also included campaigns through email, mobile, social media, on-air radio mentions, plugs by local celebrities like WRKO Boston talk show host Howie Carr, and special events hosted on-site at the Russo Marine showroom—all of which navigated visitors to, a dedicated microsite created for the campaign.

The Creative: The only expense to Russo Marine was the value of the boat itself, which the company donated in exchange for Entercom's multipronged media campaign.

The Verdict:

Margaret Johnson is executive creative director and associate partner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. In her 14 years with the agency, she has worked on multiple high-profile accounts, including Budweiser, Hewlett-Packard, Nintendo, Nike, Yahoo, and Sonic. Read our Q&A with Margaret for more.

Good as an experiment in driving interest and traffic, but probably not great for the advertiser's brand equity. With only one boat available at the advertised price, I can't help but think of all those boat shoppers who spent time chasing this deal ended up feeling like they'd fallen for the old bait-and-switch.

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