Carnival Cruise Lines is targeting the value of cruising in 2012. // © 2012 Carnival Cruise Lines
At the end of the year, two of the biggest players in cruising announced new initiatives based on the attraction of the sea, although they are focused very differently. Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is launching a new brand campaign centered on the relaxation, romance and adventure of the open waters, and Carnival Cruise Lines has opened a new advertising campaign that promotes the quality and value of Fun Ship cruises in comparison with traditional land-based vacations. Both campaigns began in December and will build throughout 2012.
RCI’s new message uses the imagery of a telephone/conch shell — dubbed the “shellphone” — with the tagline “The Sea is Calling. Answer it Royally.” The campaign is capitalizing on universal responses to the sea discovered through focus groups and quantitative research conducted in 16 countries around the world, stressing associations with getting away from the cares and responsibilities of land and taking to the open sea.
“We are tapping into the sea’s powerful, emotional force to reframe the context of cruising for consumers who don’t understand what a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation offers,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president, marketing for RCI. “‘The Sea is Calling’ is a global-scale campaign that will resonate with people no matter where they live, what language they speak, or whether or not they have cruised before. And we want vacationers everywhere to know that Royal Caribbean’s distinctive and innovative ships, personal service and breadth of destination experiences is how we ‘Answer it Royally.’”
Created by RCI’s lead advertising agency, JWT New York, in partnership with media agency Mindshare, the campaign is deploying globally throughout the new year after its official January launch. The Shellphone began appearing on Dec. 19 in major cities, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston and Miami.
Television commercials featuring everyday people interacting with the Shellphone (in 30-second and 60-second versions) began on Jan. 9, and consumers are invited to actively participate by indicating where in the world they would like to cruise and entering a sweepstakes at Facebook.com/RoyalCaribbean.
Carnival’s multichannel campaign launched on Dec. 26, and blends national and regional executions across television, out-of-home (billboards) and online media. The central theme of the campaign reinforces the notion that everyone deserves a fun, memorable vacation at a great price and that Carnival delivers on this promise with a unique onboard experience at an exceptional value. The Land vs. Sea campaign has a light touch, pitting the carefree fun of a Carnival cruise against the most common land-based vacations such as visiting relatives, camping and going to an amusement park.
“The value of a Carnival cruise is clearest when juxtaposed against a land-based vacation and to get our message out in a big way, we used humor and identifiable moments to reach out to the 80 percent of the population who has never taken a cruise,” said Jim Berra, Carnival’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “We believe that everyone has the right to an exceptional vacation at a great value, and this campaign will remind Americans that they don’t need to compromise, or break their budgets, in their pursuit of fun,” he added.
Research shows that many Americans are curbing expenses by taking vacations that are within driving distance. With a wide choice of close-to-home ports and a variety of short and long cruises that fit any budget, Carnival has an answer that allows consumers to minimize distance to the vacation and travel to new places at the same time.
One of the line’s priorities is reaching cruise rookies. For example, a 3-D billboard in Times Square will portray the beauty of a Carnival cruise ship on the Caribbean juxtaposed against the bustle of the city, with the phrase “Cruising From New York.” Other customized out-of-home elements will be featured in subway cars, atop taxis, on elevators and in prospecting displays.
Like RCI’s message, Carnival’s will unfold during 2012 in a variety of forms and venues.