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Mercury Marine Targets Young Boaters in First Campaign Since 2011

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Mercury Marine, the boat engine and motor maker, wants to power boldly into 2017. In January, the Fond du Lac, Wisc.-based brand is debuting "Go Boldly," a new campaign designed to attract millennials to the 77-year-old company on an emotionally adventurous level.

"The world is 71% water and 100% awesome," read title cards in one spot, which encourages consumers to use the right gear to "get out there" for activities like star-gazing and boating. While past campaigns, such as Mercury Marine's 2011 "The World Before You, Mercury Behind You" campaign, highlighted the brand's gear and technical features, the new work tries to connect with customers by tapping into their emotions.

"We've done traditional consumer advertising in a minimal way in the past, but it was functionally-focused, not why you go out and boat," said Michelle Dauchy, who joined as chief marketing officer last year, noting that the shift has transformed how the brand talks to its customer. She added that in order to attract millennials, "the boaters of tomorrow," the brand has had to change the tone of its marketing. "Connecting with them in a more aspirational way is important to us -- they don't want to hear about features and benefits, they want to make a connection with the brand."

Two 30-second TV spots and a collection of 15-second commercials will air nationally to targeted audiences of boat owners, fishermen and water enthusiasts throughout 2017. Digital and social media efforts, including banner advertising in outdoor publications, will support the push.

This is Mercury Marine's first fresh campaign since 2011, and its first work from Miami-based Markham & Stein, which was recently named the brand's agency of record. The boat company, which is a division of Brunswick Corp., had previously worked with GS Design. Mediavest Spark handles its media duties.

Ms. Dauchy declined to say how much Mercury Marine is investing in the new campaign but did say the budget exceeds previous amounts. Last year, Mercury Marine spent $653,000 on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.