Sea Princess gets lifestyle media on board

Luxury cruise line company Princess Cruises operates a fleet of 14 ships that sail to more than 260 destinations around the world. In May the company introduced a new ship for the UK market, the Sea Princess. Based in Southampton, it offered a selection of bespoke cruises around the Mediterranean and Scandinavia.

Campaign Launch of Sea Princess
Client Princess Cruises
PR team Halpern Associates
Timescale December 2004-June 2005
Budget Undisclosed

To build on the liner's unique selling point – it is a 'superliner' with a 300 sq ft poolside film screen – the firm tasked travel, lifestyle and celebrity PR specialist Halpern Associates with announcing its arrival at British shores.

To secure a leading celebrity to 'name' the ship and generate maximum coverage of the launch among consumers and travel agents. To raise awareness of Sea Princess and Princess Cruises, and differentiate the brand from other cruise lines. To educate travel and lifestyle press about the growth of the UK cruise market.

Strategy and Plan
The campaign consisted of media relations and celebrity endorsement around the theme of Hollywood glamour. In the six months leading up to the launch of Sea Princess, the PR team
invited travel, consumer and lifestyle media to experience the ship's facilities and witness developments. This included recipe tasting sessions for food media and spa treatments for  beauty journalists. Halpern also secured print and broadcast promotions, including a week-long cruise giveaway competition on ITV1's This Morning.
To inject the launch/naming ceremony with glamour, the PR team signed up Joanna Lumley as the ship's 'godmother' and Ruby Wax as the compere and host of a 'Princess Idol' competition. This event, held on 26 May in aid of Barnardo's – which Lumley has supported for more than 20 years – raised funds for the kids' charity's 'Better Start in Life' campaign.

Post-launch, Halpern placed diary stories with lifestyle and celebrity-
focused media, and sent a press release on cruising trends to trade titles.

Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage of the ship's launch appeared in titles including Hello!, OK!, the Daily Express and The Independent, with spin-off celebrity features in The Daily Telegraph. Features centred around Sea Princess appeared in trade magazines, such as Travel Weekly, and  national newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday.

Broadcast coverage included 12 mentions on This Morning, plus items on BBC South Today, Meridian Tonight, BBC Radio Solent, Ocean FM and Wave 105 FM.

Princess Cruises head of brand marketing Pieter van der Schee says: 'In 2005, Sea Princess exceeded UK passenger targets, and bookings for 2006 are already well ahead of expectations.'

The launch event raised £70,000 for Barnardo's and was attended by more than 1,800 journalists, travel agents and charity supporters. Celebrity support included Amanda Holden and the face of Currys, Linda Barker.

Having announced that Goldie Hawn would attend the launch, there was some disappointment when the Hollywood actress failed to appear due to illness.

However, Travel Weekly deputy news editor Lee Hayhurst says: 'The event was well organised and interviewees included the ship's captain.'

Second opinion

Sue Ockwell is managing director of Travel PR

There have been   many cruise ship launches over the past two years; in fact the cruise ship market has been expanding beyond anyone's wildest dreams.  This must have made it a considerable challenge to gain column inches for yet another launch, so the strategy of raising funds for a cause such as Barnardo's was intelligent. Joanna Lumley's participation was a great coup and her name alone would have attracted coverage.

The aim of achieving  Hollywood glamour did not, however, quite hit the spot with the appearances of Lumley and Ruby Wax alone.

Goldie Hawn's non-appearance due to ill health must have been a bitter pill to swallow, and doubtless reduced the coverage achieved. 
The result of 'more than 1,800 journalists, travel agents and charity supporters', plus a sprinkling of celebrities, sounds impressive at first reading, but it would be interesting to know how many of those people were actually from the media; the celebrity attendance was certainly pretty low. 

 The important thing, however, is client satisfaction, and Princess Cruises appears to be more than happy with the result of this launch campaign for Sea Princess.. 

And a big bravo for raising a very creditable £70,000 for Barnardo's – that is certainly a result worth mentioning.

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