2020: Carl Blackwell, NMMA and Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina
Carl Blackwell, NMMA
Carl Blackwell joined the National Marine Manufacturers Association as Chief Marketing Officer in September 2003. In his 16 years with NMMA, Blackwell oversaw 275 boat show marketing plans and helped turn the NMMA marketing department into one of the best marketing teams in recreational boating and in the association world.
He helmed the launch of the first Discover Boating national marketing campaign in 2006, as well as each of the subsequent 14 campaigns. The first campaign included national cable television advertising, ads in Time magazine, Sports Illustrated and other national publications, a new DiscoverBoating.com website, a consumer DVD geared to generate leads and comprehensive public relations outreach.
Blackwell also led Discover Boating’s first major Facebook campaign which resulted in a prestigious Effie award for the best advertising campaign on a small budget in 2010. Under his guidance, the Discover Boating Facebook page grew to become the largest Facebook community for recreational boating in the world.
In July 2011, Carl was appointed President of Grow Boating, Inc., which manages the industry-funded Discover Boating Campaign in the United States and Canada. Discover Boating marketing efforts led by Blackwell and his team have been instrumental in welcoming new boaters to the water. Four to five million consumers—new and prospective boaters—visit the Discover Boating websites annually, which in turn leads to two to three million visits to boat manufacturer websites each year.
Blackwell’s efforts were also integral in establishing comprehensive data-driven marketing learnings to help advance the entire industry by growing sales and participation, including landmark research on first-time boat buyers, and the industry’s first-ever research aimed at understanding boat club members and renters.
Previously, Blackwell spent eight years with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as Executive Director of Marketing best known for its “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” marketing campaign. He also has worked in various marketing and public relations capacities for General Mills, Little Caesars, Dean Foods, and Bentley Barnes and Lynn Advertising.
Blackwell graduated with honors from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in Management. He grew up in southern Indiana near Lake Monroe, where he enjoyed the water on several family and friends’ boats. He currently docks his boat at Diversey Harbor in Chicago.