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Tucker Rocky taps Ducks Unlimited

July 28, 2003
Filed under Features

Tucker Rocky Distributing has expanded its marketing reach with the announcement of its exclusive partnership with international conservation organization Ducks Unlimited. Using this licensing agreement, Tucker Rocky plans to create a premium line of ATV accessories that are specifically branded with the Ducks Unlimited name.
Ducks Unlimited, which operates in 50 states, all Canadian Provinces, Mexico, South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, has over 700,000 members worldwide. That member base contributes a lot of money every year, and 84% of those monies are turned back into wetland and habitat projects for North American waterfowl.
There appear to be solid grounds for a partnership between the major ATV accesories distributor and the fourth-largest conservation organization in North America.
According to Ducks Unlimited research, readers of DU Magazine are three times more likely to own an ATV; three times more likely to use it for recreation or competition; and four times more likely to use it for work.
In expaining the move, Tucker Rocky officials pointed to a 1999 study by the research firm of Cone/Roper which discussed “cause marketing.” The term applies to the “strategic approach to integrating social issues into business strategy.” The study noted that appropriate tie-ins can build brand equity and corporate identity while increasing profitability.
Expanded product line
By leveraging the DU brand, Tucker Rocky hopes to tap into the needs and desires of today’s duck hunters to offer them a complete line of products. To start with, Tucker plans to offer a line of soft luggage and an ATV loading ramp. Future plans could include a quiet exhaust system or other related products. Despite this growth, Tucker Rocky does not see any conflict with its successful QuadBoss brand.
“We have QuadBoss internally,” said Tucker Rocky’s Glen Urquhart, “and were very happy with that, but we wanted to create this upscale product line and didn’t want to use the QuadBoss brand. So we thought ‘What brand name would be great?’ The more we thought about it the more natural it became to attach the Ducks Unlimited brand to it and make it a nice premium line with a lot of amenities.
“Along with the line of products, DU also brings Advantage-brand camouflage to the table, as it has an existing license. The new Advantage Max-4 pattern will be the first offered.
“Now that the word is out, we’re having people call us with product ideas. We own the license to brand anything we choose as ‘DU.’”
no dealer conflicts seen
Urquhart also stressed that this product line will be available only to powersports dealers. “It’s crucial that dealers know that,” said Urquhart. “It won’t be sold in Cabelas or Wal-Mart or anywhere like that.”
However, this restriction does not include the nine Gander Mountain stores that officially became powersports dealers when they started selling Arctic Cat ATVs.
But Urquhart was quick to point out that the DU branded merchandise will only be sold in the powersports area at Gander Mountain, and will not be blended in with traditional hunting racks or displays.
Benefits for Ducks Unlimited
The beginnings of the partnership started to form 10 months ago at DU’s Great Outdoors Festival in Oshkosh, Wisc. “(We) formed a relationship with them and talked with them at length about ATV accessories in general. We saw a need to create and develop an upscale brand,” said Urquhart.
Proceeds go to Ducks Unlimited on a royalty agreement, with a straight percentage going into DU’s coffers. “DU will be helping us introduce the product in its magazine,” said Urquhart. “They will be giving us some space in new products. They will be offering product placement on their television show, so they are going to help do the promotion. They’re as excited about it as we are.”
In addition, Tucker Rocky plans to donate product for DU fundraising efforts, including prizes for banquets and other types of giveaways.
Ducks Unlimited plans to bring outdoor writers in to demo the products and funnel products back to them for testing. Plus, Tucker Rocky will offer DU employees some special ways to buy products at selected times each year.
Despite the somewhat unusual partnership, these types of agreements are not new in the powersports industry. “I know that a couple of the OEs had Ducks Unlimited tie-ins with DU branded units,” said Urquhart. “But that has gone away. We’re testing this, and if it works, you’ll see some more of it.”

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