Client: Carnival Cruise Lines (Miami, FL)
Agency: Rawle Murdy Associates (Charleston, SC)
Campaign: Launch of Year-Round Service from Charleston, SC
Duration: Mid-February to May 18
Budget: Approximately $250,000
Carnival Cruise Lines hired Rawle Murdy Associates after an RFP for the launch of its year-round cruise service from Charleston, SC. The new team developed a campaign to position Carnival as a valuable community member and drive ticket sales.
“To support year-round cruising you need significant consumer awareness within in the whole geographic region,” explains Jennifer de la Cruz, PR director for Carnival. “A lot of education was needed. We wanted to communicate that we're good community partners, [and that's] best achieved through PR.”
The team took an integrated approach, incorporating partnerships, events, social media outreach, media and blogger relations, and out-of-home ads.
Erin Watson, senior account director at Rawle Murdy, says messaging emphasized the benefits of cruising from Charleston, and media outreach focused on local, regional, and drive-market outlets.
Carnival established partnerships with four prominent regional and national travel bloggers and several regional radio stations. Each partner gave away cruises to their audiences.
FamilyTravel.com editor Lynn O'Rourke Hayes discussed Carnival ships in an SMT focused on “easy family travel.”
Carnival sponsored a 40-foot-by-110-foot inflatable slide at the Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run Finish Festival on March 27. For each slider, Carnival donated $1 to a local children's hospital. De la Cruz says water slides are a “marquee feature” on Carnival ships, so the inflatable slide was a nice tie-in.
Carnival held a launch day event on the ship, Carnival Fantasy, including water slide races and a maritime escort into the harbor. Twelve regional and national bloggers and journalists attended a “familiarization cruise” in early June.
De la Cruz reports Fantasy has sailed at full capacity since its launch, with higher average ticket prices than comparable cruises, as prices are based on demand.
More than 100,000 people attended the bridge run event, and Carnival donated $5,000 to the children's hospital. Media coverage of the launch included extensive local and regional coverage, as well as other outlets, such as The New York Times and AP.
The campaign garnered upwards of 2,100 Facebook comments, and Twitter generated more than 170,000 impressions.
Carnival and Rawle Murdy will continue to work together on a project basis. Carnival will sponsor the bridge run at a higher level next year, and will continue to expand community partnerships.