(Las Vegas, NV)…The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recognized Zebco as the Take Me Fishing Manufacturer of the Year for its leadership in encouraging people, particularly children and families, to go fishing. The presentation was made during ICAST 2005, the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, July 20 – 22. ICAST is the world’s largest fishing trade show, with more than 6,000 representatives from the worldwide fishing community in attendance.  

Zebco, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was selected for the award based on its unequaled efforts in the use of the Take Me Fishing marketing materials in support of the industry’s national outreach effort by the same name. The Take Me Fishing campaign, administered by the RBFF, is a national advertising and education program to recruit and retain anglers.   

Bruce Matthews, RBFF president/CEO, presented the award, along with ASA Board Chairman Dave Pfeiffer, executive vice president of Shimano American Corporation, and Mike Nussman, ASA president and CEO. Accepting the award was Zebco President, Jeff Pontius.  

“ICAST is the perfect venue to recognize Zebco for this prestigious honor, where we are among valued friends, peers and competitors,” said Matthews. “We all know how difficult it is to implement change and we congratulate Mr. Pontius and his staff for the wonderful job they’ve done of integrating the new Take Me Fishing marketing materials in such short order. Zebco receives this award for leading by example.” RBFF changed its marketing focus from Water Works Wonder to Take Me Fishing early in 2005. Plano Molding Company and Shimano American Corporation were the 2003 and 2004 recipients respectively.  

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition and to be in the company of other industry leaders such as Shimano and Plano Molding,” said Pontius. “Zebco has a long history of helping people get started in fishing, and once we heard about the new Take Me Fishing campaign, we started incorporating it in as many ways as possible. Take Me Fishing is a great message and call to action. And that’s the key. We all need to be reminded to do our part to bring new anglers into the sport. And the more we can unite our efforts by using Take Me Fishing, the bigger impact we’ll have.”  

Zebco incorporated the Take Me Fishing images, Web address and new logo into almost every aspect of the company’s marketing mix including its Web site, press releases and other marketing materials. Campaign components are prominently displayed on Zebco, Quantum and Rhino packaging, catalogs and promotional materials. Zebco also changed the name of its annual Family Fishing Festival to the Take Me Fishing Day. The event is held annually in Tulsa on the first Saturday of National Fishing and Boating Week and Oklahoma’s “free fishing” weekend.  

ASA staff members reviewed the RBFF Manufacturer of the Year entries and selected the winner.  In making the announcement, ASA’s Mike Nussman said, “In early 2005, RBFF changed the campaign to Take Me Fishing. It’s only been a few months, but the industry likes the change. Zebco has done a great job of incorporating the new campaign and they deserve this honor.”  

The Take Me Fishing ad campaign includes television, radio and print media, and has generated nearly four billion consumer impressions to date. For more information about the RBFF and the Take Me Fishing program, contact Jamie O’Brien at 703-519-0013 or jobrien@rbff.org. For more information about ICAST 2005, contact Mary Jane Williamson, ASA, 703-519-9691 or mjwilliamson@asafishing.org.