CAMPAIGNS: Consumer PR - Disney puts on a show in Soton

Client: Walt Disney Attractions

Client: Walt Disney Attractions

PR Team: In-house team and The Red Consultancy

Campaign: Launch of the Disney Wonder Cruise Liner

Timescale: July 1999

Budget: undisclosed

The port of Southampton has a rich maritime history and has seen such

ships as the Queen Mary and the QE2 grace its docks. It was therefore

quite fitting that Disney’s 83,000 ton cruise liner spent three days in

July at the port before making her maiden voyage.

Disney’s second cruise liner, the Disney Wonder, was over three months

behind schedule and cost pounds 250 million. The ship was built in an

Italian shipyard and made its first official appearance at Southampton,

which was her only European port of call before sailing across the


Walt Disney Attractions’ in-house team and the Red Consultancy joined

forces to make the most of the ship’s brief appearance in



To generate national and regional media coverage. To raise awareness

among UK travel agents of Disney’s cruise liners. To update the image of

cruise holidays as a family holiday for all ages.

Strategy and Plan

This was the first time a Disney attraction had visited the UK. The fact

that the UK is Disney’s biggest overseas market, growing at a rate of 20

per cent a year, was a deciding factor in choosing Southampton for the


With just a six-week lead-up to the arrival of the ship in Southampton,

the PR teams started by targeting probably the most important audience -

the kids. Competitions were organised involving key children’s TV

programmes such as Fully Booked, SMTV and BBC Newsround, offering

winners the chance to take part in activities on board the ship while it

was in port.

They also contacted London radio station Capital FM and two Southampton

stations two weeks before the ship’s arrival to arrange promotion of the


The Daily Mail ran a page devoted to a VIP ticket promotion and six

regional newspapers were approached to run children’s competitions with

the prize of a party onboard. The team also worked closely with local

papers in the south of England.

The quayside terminal was transformed, with 400 tons of sand and 100

palm trees to resemble Disney’s private Caribbean island, Castaway Cay,

where the Disney Wonder sails to. This created a photo opportunity for

the national and regional media who were invited to cover the arrival of

the ship with the Mayor of Southampton and Mickey Mouse in the


Press access to the Disney Wonder was limited due to the fact that over

2,000 travel agents and tour operators had been invited on board.

A celebrity party was held on board on the first night of the ship’s

stay and an exclusive party coverage feature with OK! was secured.

Measurement and Evaluation

On the day of the arrival of the Disney Wonder, Channel 5, ITN, Radio 5

Live and CNN Worldwide all ran live news items. Around 12,000 people

turned up to watch the firework display and to wave the ship off when it

left three days later. Several local news programmes also covered the

ship’s arrival along with national coverage in the Independent, the Sun,

OK! and on TV. Photos of the ship arriving also ran in six major

regional newspapers, including the Evening Standard and the



The campaign was an overall success. Tour operators gave positive

feedback and bookings for Disney cruises increased. Further coverage is

still expected in the Sunday Times kids’ section and several travel

supplements, as well as a forthcoming TV programme for next spring.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in