An Aqua Flyer… Flyer From Syd’s Text Museum

WARNING: If you are lactose intolerant, you may want to move on cause it may get a tad gassy today. A huge thanks to long time fellow WoodyBoater and curator Syd Marsden from Syd’s Text Museum. Yesterday, Syd sent these images to us and mmmmm, these look rather milkish! And got me thinking about how this brand took a big gassy wet one in the board room. Hey you were warned!

LOOK! Perfectly matched boats and motors

Matched Unit Boat

Sea Horses all 8 of them

Color ad. BTW $628 in todays dollars is $11,087 so in a way, not a bad value.

Great ads, so what happened?

From a marketing perspective, and having dealt with franchise’s there is a HUGE red flag here. Like flashing lights and people waving to STOP! It’s not the ads, or the messaging, that part is great. They clearly dumped a ton of money in it with lots of different messages. See it yet? Okay, here is a hint. Imagine you are a boat dealer, you sell boats, lots of different kinds. And many use an outboard. In fact you can match up an outboard with a row boat or other stuff. And along comes Johnson, and says, HEY we sell boats too, and they are boats perfect for our outboards, and now, as the boat dealer you are torn.  And the dealer network is the real gold here. Outboards can sit in a shed, lots of them. But boats? And boats that question other boats? So? You don’t sell these, cause its easier to sell something else. That combined with the economy of the day, and Oh boy. Anyway thats my two cents on the subject. They flew to close to the sun, and bit the real hand that fed them.

8 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I won’t argue with a marketing genius on this but can’t help but wonder if the “Perfectly Matched campaign may have had a different outcome if it were not timed along with The Great Depression.

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    You are correct regarding the crappy economy, and crappy timing for many boat manufactures. So doing this was a double whammy. One can imagine that needing a new engine for the old boat may have been the move during this time. Instead of a new boat! And to add to that, dealers were no doubt dropping like flies. Ugh, I have PTSD from 2007 still.

  3. Dan Overbeek in MI
    Dan Overbeek in MI says:

    Johnson did have some very sharp boats in these photos, competing to some degree with inboard styling. I kinda like them. Perhaps, like with other products, they were a bit ahead of their time. I can see the dealers angle and The Great Depression did not help them at all either. They rolled the dice and lost. It is sad.

  4. Syd
    Syd says:

    Lots of different possibilities on this. My thoughts are that they were looking at a way to get some of the people who were thinking about buying an inboard. Johnson was ahead of the times. I forget the exact year but I think it was late twenties maybe early thirties when Johnson came out with the inboard outboard. Penn Yan actually made and sold some boats with the IO set up

  5. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    I think the problem must’ve been mostly poor timing, as there were many companies offering “matched sets” during the late ’50s to early ’70s period. They were fiberglass & few attempted to hide the outboard. Nearly all of the outboards were made by OMC, Mercury or Scott McCulloch & branded for the various retailers or boatbuilders. Chrysler, Elgin, Montgomery Ward, Scott McCulloch, Sears & others offered matched boat, motor & trailer sets. Even SeaRay had branded outboard covers. Though by then under the OMC umbrella, even Johnson had another go as a boat company in the ’60s – early ’70s.

  6. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Seems like the early Larson Falls Flyers took a similar approach in the early 40’s (and had about the same success) although not quite as inbedded as the Johnson within the boat design.

  7. Larry Forget
    Larry Forget says:

    PUMPKIN,, Orange boat spotted about 2000 at FingerLakes ACBS show as Syd mentioned

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