Meg Lee started at Norwegian Cruise Line eight years ago as a director of brand management and advertising. After becoming chief marketing officer in April, she hired an advertising agency and began working on a new creative campaign for the brand to succeed "Cruise Like a Norwegian." Lee spoke with cruise editor Tom Stieghorst about the initiative.
Q: What is the theme for Norwegian's new advertising campaign?
A: "Feel Free." That is the theme. It's more than just a campaign; it's really sort of the brand tag line, and the campaign we're going live with for Wave season this year will be all about that.
Q: Can you elaborate on the idea behind it?
A: Norwegian uniquely delivers on our brand promise of freedom and flexibility in the experience we deliver to all our guests. We were looking for an idea that was clear and simple and could bring that to life. "Cruise Like a Norwegian" is where we've been, and that ... was very effective, but Norwegian is really expanding globally, in a very accelerated way. We needed an idea that's more easily translated across languages and regions so that we can position ourselves as a more global brand with a more consistent message and market regardless of country.
Q: How does "Feel Free" translate into visual images?
A: It's an evolution, not a revolution, so there's a lot of familiarity [with] the wonderful, active, emotional experiences that we're going to be highlighting in terms of the Norwegian brand and actual experiences on the ship. You should expect to see that come to life in a very modern and emotional way. Then we're really looking at a total package, so it's not just the visuals, it's the language, it's how we talk about feeling free.
We invite people to have certain feelings, you know: "Feel like finding your happy place?" and then we say "feel free." Or: "Feel like doing what you want, when you want, with whom you want and for how long?"
I saw that early on in the pitch and I thought, "Man, you can't describe what you experience on Norwegian much better than that."
Q: So is the last thing that people will see or hear, the words Feel Free?
A: You got that right.
Q: What are your plans for television? TV ads are a boon for agents who don't have the wherewithal to do it on their own.
A: We agree, which is why 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 eight years ago. This demonstrates our continuing commitment to travel partners and driving business through them ... along with all of the stuff we need to do online to be where everybody is looking to engage travel content.
Q: What is the featured imagery? Is it the ships, is it the destinations, is it the activities, is it the customers themselves?
A: It's all those things. There's such a lot of work that's been done over the years to have a good foundation at Norwegian. We're clear about who we are and what we deliver and how important our guests are.
Q: How long have we been cruising like Norwegians?
A: For four years.
Q: A lot must have happened in those years, because it seems like a lot longer.
A: You're singing to the choir on that one.