Showcase battleship, and they will come
By PAUL BARRETT
For the Courier-Post
In the hit movie, Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner builds a baseball diamond/field in his cornfield in the hopes that his bygone baseball idols will reappear and play ball. The dialogue insisted that if he built it, they would come.
Well, fortunately, we don't have to build the USS New Jersey. But will they come? Definitely! Who wouldn't want to tour the most decorated ship in U.S. history, with 16 battle stars? But how can the Home Port Alliance make this crown jewel really sparkle, get repeat visits and turn it into a world-class exhibit?
How about advertising/marketing/promotions?
- A simulation video/interactive theater. Experience the thrill of being on the USS New Jersey in action! Feel and hear her 16-inch guns being fired, see friendly and opposing forces maneuvering. Become an honorary shipmate and relive the experience!
- How about a helicopter ride that could take you on an aerial view of the Delaware Valley area and then land on the USS New Jersey? Liability? Insurance? For sure. But is it doable? Perhaps.
- How about a banquet facility for corporate parties, functions, special occasions, conventions and other groups?
- How about tying the knot on the "Big J"? That would provide an impressive ambiance and memorable occasion, plus publicity for the ship. The same goes for anniversaries, reunions, etc.
- "Everyone, man your battle stations!" Is this the way it was shouted out? How about a simulated control room where visitors could eavesdrop and see how specific war tactics/plans were conceived and implemented? Pick a battle that actually took place, say in the Pacific Theater, and show what went into the strategy. (This exhibit could be updated periodically to generate another reason to visit the ship in the future.)
- A 20-minute video documentary that would show highlights of the USS New Jersey: From Birthplace to Berthplace.
- A Web site to market/advertise the USS New Jersey and provide ticket prices and other pertinent information.
- Tour guides and greeters related to someone who served on/built the USS New Jersey. These folks would have a special affinity to the battleship beyond just the weekly paycheck. Also, the men/women who actually built the vessel would be prime candidates to share their personal stories and experiences.
- How about inviting the men and women who built the USS New Jersey back to the ship to be treated like royalty? Throw them a special party and have a group picture taken that could be hung prominently on the ship.
The USS New Jersey needs a comprehensive marketing plan that will make it an exciting, memorable experience for people of all ages. The exhibit experience would also benefit from well-thought-out programs, periodic updates and a constant attention to creating new and different ways to cause repeat business.
- Since the ship won't be ready for the GOP convention being held in Philadelphia in July, put together a USS New Jersey convention package that delegates could take back to their states to promote/advertise the ship and give them a reason to return.
- A tie-in with Philadelphia's existing marketing/advertising programs for its major attractions, such as Independence Hall.
- Make sure the USS New Jersey is very well marketed/promoted at the Philadelphia Convention Center so the business traveler can take the experience back to his home state.
The USS New Jersey will invariably be a grand experience. The challenge will be to develop her into the most talked-about, sought-after destination for her initial "launch" (grand opening) and for generations to come.
Ready to board the USS New Jersey? I know hundreds of thousands will come to see our own special "field of dreams"!
The writer, a Runnemede resident, is president of the Blue Ribbon Committee for the USS New Jersey.