In the Hot Seat
Meg Lee, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief marketing officer, spoke with cruise editor Tom Stieghorst about the new "Feel Free" TV ad campaign. Read More
As 2016 dawns, cruise lines are set to unleash a raft of
new advertising that will refresh their message and remind consumers about
cruise vacations on the cusp of the industry’s key booking period.
Wave season, stretching from January to March, accounts
for a third of annual cruise bookings at some lines.
Companies from Norwegian Cruise Line to Crystal Cruises
have readied new ad messages and picked Wave as the launch window for their
Others, while not debuting new messages, are stepping up
their game. MSC Cruises has made a big splash with outdoor advertising in New
York, including the takeover of a Brooklyn subway station and an electronic
billboard display high above Times Square.
Perhaps no company is making a bigger platform out of
Wave season this year than Norwegian.
“We’ll be on national television for the first time in a
very long time, in a much bigger way than we have been since I started with the
company eight years ago,” said Norwegian Chief Marketing Officer Meg Lee.
The company will use TV to debut its “Feel Free”
campaign (ad is below), which will replace “Cruise Like a Norwegian” as the main marketing
message. The launch culminates seven months of work by Norwegian’s new ad
agency, BBDO Atlanta.
The ads will rock to a newly created anthem by Pitbull
called “Freedom,” an adaptation of a 1965 Rolling Stones’ song titled “I’m
National TV requires tens of millions of dollars of
spending to be effective, which makes it especially valuable to travel
agencies, which can’t muster the resources for TV campaigns.
“This demonstrates our continuing commitment to travel
partners and driving business through them,” Lee said.
The same message was delivered by Crystal Cruises
President and CEO Edie Rodriguez to a group of top-selling Crystal agents
aboard the line’s Crystal Esprit in the Seychelles in December.
She said the luxury line will take to the airwaves with
ads for the first time in its 25-year history. The new tagline, “Where
all-inclusive is all-exclusive,” will include images of women dressed in haute
couture gowns; destinations that Crystal sails to will be their backdrop.
In taking the wraps off the campaign, Rodriguez told the
agents one of the goals of television advertising was to “drive business
through your doors.”
The ads began in print on Dec. 22 and will make the jump
to television in the coming weeks. “I have a very specific approach to when and
how we will launch our first commercial,” she said.
Quiet on the details of a new campaign is Celebrity
Cruises, which will be launching a major initiative the second week in
January. Last year, Celebrity’s
advertising revolved around “Remember Everything,” a $16 million campaign that primarily
appeared on the Bravo cable network.
Holland America Line, meanwhile, is retiring “Signature
of Excellence” in favor of “Savor the Journey.”
The line will appear on television “for the first time in
a long while,” said spokesman Erik Elvejord, in a dozen select markets from
Boston to San Diego and occasionally nationwide on the NBC network.
Shows on which the ads will be aired include “60
Minutes,” “The Voice,” “The CBS Evening News,” “The Tonight Show” and “Saturday
Trade advertising that features HAL’s updated logo minus
its traditional three- masted tall ship has already begun.
The emotional messages in new advertising vary with the
brand identities of the various lines.
In the third year of a campaign launched in 2014 with $20
million in advertising, Princess Cruises will tempt passengers to “Come Back
New” in a series of ads on TV and elsewhere through March.
The Princess ads play on people’s desire for a cruise
that leaves them with a new perspective, new friendship, new story or a deeper
appreciation of their loved ones.
At Royal Caribbean International, ads will continue to
urge passengers to “Come Seek” something different than what they expect from a
cruise, the Caribbean or a tourist experience.
The theme debuted in November, when Royal got an early
start on its Wave season promotion.
Norwegian’s call to “Feel Free” plays on its longstanding
Freestyle Cruising premise that highlights choice and a lack of regimentation.
The ads will be very direct, Lee said. “We invite people to have certain
feelings, you know: ‘Feel like finding your happy place?’ and then we say,
‘feel free,’” she said.
Crystal is trying to evoke an aura of exclusivity in its
ads. Rodriguez chose feminine haute couture as an emblem of exclusivity and
“We’re doing all of these brand extensions, so it has to
paint that kind of story,” said Rodriguez, referring to Crystal’s push into
river cruising, luxury yacht and high-end air-tour products.
“It’s about surprise and delight for the highly
affluent,” she said.
MSC Cruises’ TV ads are set to the 1970 hit song “In the
Summertime” that has a carefree, live-for-the-moment message. A longer,
60-second ad includes information about 2-for-1 offers.
MSC Cruises promoted a 2-for-1 balcony sale with a digital outdoor ad high above Times Square in New York.
MSC will advertise in New York’s Times Square through
March 31, sharing space on an electronic billboard at 43rd and Broadway seen by
more than 1 million people a day. Along with a digital outdoor ad during the
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, it is a first for MSC, a
For dramatic effect, the brand also purchased all the
available ad space at a Brooklyn, N.Y., subway stop on Atlantic Avenue beneath
the Barclays Center arena from early December to the beginning of January, reaching
an estimated 1.3 million people over the four weeks.
The line’s Wave season marketing plans include a
promotion with Eataly, the massive Italian marketplace in New York’s Flatiron
District, at the upcoming New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center and a
trade oriented campaign with Sabre and Amadeus in which Web banner ads will
appear when agents log in to their booking systems.