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Leaving Bad Publicity At the Port

It’s been a miserable few years for the cruise industry, which is enduring a seemingly never-ending streak of bad luck. Last month, a Royal Caribbean ship returned to port after nearly 700 people came down with a virus. Last year, the Carnival Triumph was stuck at sea for days without power or functioning plumbing – what came to be known as the poop cruise. And of course, two years ago, the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy with the loss of 32 lives. So what is a cruise line to do? Princess Cruises has launched its biggest advertising campaign ever to show the better side of ocean tourism. The Valencia company, a unit of Carnival Corp. & plc in London, launched the campaign Jan. 15. It has a budget of $20 million and marks the brand’s return to TV and radio advertising for the first time in a decade. It also includes magazine and digital advertising. The campaign was created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco – the same agency responsible for the “Got Milk?” ads. But this campaign takes an entirely different tactic. The TV ads, which run through the end of March, show people contemplating their lives and relationships on ship. Gordon Ho, senior vice president of marketing at Princess, said research shows the fastest-growing segment of cruise passengers are what he called “the meaningful traveler.” “They want to enrich their lives, explore and visit new places, experience culture, and use vacations to reconnect with family,” he said. “The spots reflect those transformative moments on Princess Cruises.” A Harris Interactive poll that was released last summer found that the public trust of the industry had fallen 12 percent with more than half saying they were less likely to book a cruise than a year earlier. However, Stacy Lewis, senior vice president at Murphy O’Brien Public Relations, a West Los Angeles firm specialized in tourism clients, said despite the negative publicity, the Princess campaign targets the people who cruise. She noted that other research shows people with money, who are most likely to buy cruise tickets, are looking for self-enrichment, including quality time with loved ones, relaxed environments and rewards for hard work – all depicted in the ads. “This campaign is pitch perfect,” she said. “There has been a lot of sensational coverage, but people still continue to cruise. The industry has seen enormous growth in the last 10 to 15 years. The growth is a response to consumer interest.” – Joel Russell

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.
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