Rhodes Communications
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In our more than 30 years of business we’ve executed literally thousands of PR and marketing projects for our clients.


May 16, 2017

Press Event to Launch Next-Gen Marine Gas Engines

Client:  Volvo Penta of the Americas

Date:     August 2015


Volvo Penta of the Americas, with its technology partner General Motors, planned to introduce its next-generation gas sterndrive engines to the boating industry.  These new engines, based on GM’s Gen V technology, would bring new levels of power, performance, torque and energy efficiency, while also drastically reducing emissions.


With limited budgets, a massive consumer advertising campaign was not an option.  So Volvo Penta tasked its PR firm Rhodes Communications to come up with a launch strategy that would turn heads and capture the excitement of these powerful and economical new engines.


Rhodes Communications faced the challenge with a basic assumption that the only way people can appreciate the difference provided by the next-gen engine technology is to experience it firsthand. Accordingly, the press launch centered around a press event at Volvo Penta’s Test Center on the Nansemond River in Suffolk, Va.  Twelve key boating journalists from the U.S., Canada and Brazil were invited for a full briefing on the new technology and on-the-water demos.  The theme of the day was “Technology You Can Feel.”

The day-long event began with detailed presentations on the key features and benefits of the next-generation engines from Volvo Penta and GM product experts, followed by detailed close-up inspection of the products. After a BBQ lunch, the press guests headed out to the docks for test drives of the new engines, and discovered exactly what was meant by “technology you can feel.”  A highlight of the day was a wake surfing demo featuring Taylor Beaver, a 16 year old champion wake surfer. The day was capped off with a cocktail reception at the Nauticus naval museum in downtown Norfolk and a catered dinner aboard the retired battleship USS Wisconsin.  Throughout the day there were ample opportunities for the journalists to conduct private interviews with Volvo Penta executives for print and video media.


The journalists were clearly excited by the advanced technology and levels of performance never before seen in a marine gas engine.  Over dinner, many of them commented on how much they enjoyed their experience with the new engines on the water, especially the torque and acceleration at all ranges of RPMs. “You have to feel it to believe it,” one of them said.

The August press demo resulted in a surge of coverage for the new engines as they made their public debut at the major Fall and Winter boat shows.