Royal Caribbean’s new ad initiative asks first-time cruisers to “Come Seek” their own adventures. // © Royal Caribbean International
Feature image (above): “Come Seek” focuses on exploration, rather than the ship as a destination. // © 2015 Royal Caribbean International
In mid-October, Royal Caribbean International launched a new integrated ad campaign that is revolutionary in both form and content. The line is spending 35 percent more on advertising in the fourth quarter than it did last year on this multimillion-dollar initiative, which will be beefed up aggressively during the “wave season” at the beginning of next year, when bookings tend to be highest.
Focused on the Caribbean and aimed particularly at consumers who are new to cruising, the ads use language that Vickie Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and services for Royal Caribbean, describes as unusual and disruptive. The ads feature attention-getting themes such as “This is Not a Cruise,” “You are Not a Tourist” and “This is Not the Caribbean.” The message urges travelers to “Come Seek” their own adventures.
And the imagery used in the marketing campaign is not professional footage with models, but rather more based in reality. Royal Caribbean is capitalizing on its powerful Voom Internet connectivity to show live-streaming images in real time, and the destination has a starring role.
Jim Berra, chief marketing officer for the company, notes that 35.2 million people have expressed an interest in cruising but have not yet experienced it, and Royal Caribbean addresses them with personal experiences and exploration, a shift from the emphasis on the ship as a destination in itself. Berra cites consumer indifference to conventional advertising as the rationale for the new approach.
Royal Caribbean crew also stars in some of the advertising, generating a Tumblr page of video and images called Uncharted, which could eventually extend to agent contributions, according to the company.
The form is as unusual as the content. Royal Caribbean has purchased 15-second television ads and broken them into five-second spots showing dramatic activities such as skydiving, followed by a 30-second ad. These are running on shows from “The Voice” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” to “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” as well as on social media channels.
Royal Caribbean is also running five-second ads showing live content from both ships and ports on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, a first for the company is live billboards displayed via the Periscope social platform in high-traffic locations including New York’s Grand Central Station and Penn Station during the morning commute, lunch hour and evening commute.
Freed stressed the essential role agents play in implementing the campaign (and benefiting from it). Royal Caribbean is offering three contests for the trade, tied to the campaign themes, and collateral materials to keep agents engaged on the new “Loyal to You Always” website. Even sales calls are being renamed “seeker sessions.”
Although the Caribbean is the first focus, Berra says that down the road, the approach will be applied to destinations such as the Mediterranean and Alaska.