In 2013, the Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) brand suffered with some incidents involving ships from its fleet. Ogilvy Public Relations created an occasion to build brand awareness and restore reputation, hijacking an iconic moment in the Australian calendar, Red Nose Day, and forming a partnership with Australian charity, SIDS and Kids. This particular fundraiser was identified as the perfect brand fit thanks to its mantra of ‘get silly for a serious cause’ because, at CCL they are serious about creating fun (and sometimes silly) holiday memories.
In an engineering feat, a specialist company was engaged to design, build and install the largest ever red nose on a cruise ship. Seven metres in diameter, the nose was illuminated from within allowing for a strong vision opportunity at dawn as Carnival Spirit sailed into Sydney Harbour past Australia’s two greatest icons – the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Guests onboard Carnival Spirit participated in and enjoyed a host of themed fundraising activities onboard including a charity walk, themed menus, colouring in competitions and games. In the lead up to the event, consumers were given a chance to win a cruise for two by ‘red nosing themselves’ on an interactive website – rednoseme.com.
As per our objectives to generate mass coverage, the success of the project was clearly illustrated by the quality and quantity of media coverage and conversions taking place online:
- 65 pieces of coverage secured in Australia and internationally generating over 178 million impressions
- Every commercial TV station covered the story, reaching over 250 metro and regional stations
- The TODAY Show ran six CCL branded weather crosses reaching 350,000 viewers
- One of the world’s highest reaching news websites, The Daily Mail, ran a photo-gallery of Carnival Spirit and her giant red nose
- The hero shot of Carnival Spirit reached 144,400 people via Facebook alone. The same image was liked by over 2,000 people and shared 240 times
- 100% of coverage was positive and included images of the ship wearing the nose
- Over $10,000 toward SIDS and Kids was raised by CCL and Carnival Spirit guests in onboard and in-house activities
- 3,450 people entered the online competition to win a cruise for two on Carnival Spirit
Challenge: More than 18 months ago, Pulse Communications was tasked with building excitement and anticipation for the arrival of the world’s largest cruise line, Carnival Cruise Lines, a brand barely known in this market. The challenge was to whet the Aussie appetite for a very different style of cruising in a marketplace not only cynical about cruising, but which had also yet to experience the ship, Carnival Spirit.
To grab the attention of the nation, the Carnival Cruise Lines and Pulse teams understood they needed to make Aussies feel part of the new ship which meant bringing the “Aussie spirit” to Carnival Spirit. As Carnival Cruise Lines spent $15 million in upgrades ensuring Carnival Spirit was just right for this market, so Pulse Communications invited Australians to be part of the big changes being made.
Strategy: Playing on the theme of “Aussification”, Pulse engaged the country to help make Carnival Spirit their ship through a series of activities and events. A world record slip and slide attempt provided a thrilling way of finding a name for the steepest and fastest waterslide – created specifically with Australians in mind; Australia’s Barista of the Year was brought aboard to train the ship’s staff in how to create that perfect flat white, and Aussie kids competed to design the giant Power Drencher tipping bucket in the waterpark.
When Carnival Spirit sailed through Sydney’s Heads for the very first time on 17 October 2012, her Aussie Spirit was almost complete – now all she needed was the ultimate Australian welcome to bring her into her new Sydney home. Waving Aussie flags from Spirit’s top deck, hundreds of guests signaled Spirit’s arrival whilst aerial stills and vision coordinated by Pulse was picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald, Channel 7, 9 and 10 news, The Project, Sunrise and TODAY.
Once the ship docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, a press conference attended by AAP, News Limited, 2GB, 2UE and every commercial TV network, was held in Serenity – a huge child-free retreat with panoramic ocean views, and one of the major Aussification upgrades. Media could then sample the true extent of the Aussie upgrades including testing their adrenalin on Green Thunder, the steepest and fastest water slide at sea, and sampling a cool Aussie beer at one of the newly-subbed bar taps.
The blanket publicity that followed triggered the highest booking period in Carnival Cruise Lines Australia’s history. Jennifer Vandekreeke, Director Carnival Cruise Lines Australia said, “Public relations played an integral part in driving awareness and ultimately, consideration of Carnival Spirit as Australia’s newest holiday destination. Website visits, calls to the contact centre and bookings jumped following the extensive media coverage surrounding Spirit’s arrival, notably the three and a half minute segment on A Current Affair.”
Monday, October 22nd was CCL’s biggest booking day EVER
Net bookings versus the same day prior week were up 393%
Trade bookings up 606%
Direct bookings up 150%
Over 70 clips to date, with a reach of over 35 million
Total PR value of more than $1.5 million
Social media engagement up by 269%
Over 800 new Facebook page likes in 5 days
358 Twitter mentions
November 30, 2011: The Issue: How to build excitement and anticipation for the world’s largest cruise line, Carnival Cruise Lines, a brand barely known in Oz? And how to whet the Aussie appetite for a very different style of cruising in a marketplace not only cynical about cruising, but which had also yet to experience the ship, Carnival Spirit, due to arrive in Sydney Harbour in a year’s time in October 2012? That was the mission of consumer public relations agency, Pulse Communications.
The Challenge: Amid a sea of cruise industry negative perceptions and myths, the Pulse team was challenged by Carnival Cruise Lines not only to build excitement for the brand, but also to promote the launch of its Thrill Slide – the world’s steepest and fastest water slide at sea.
Our Insight: To engage and excite Aussies, the Carnival Cruise Lines and Pulse teams understood they needed to bring a piece of “Aussie spirit” to the Carnival Spirit. That meant inviting Aussies to be a part of it – by naming it.
Creative Idea: The “Name the Thrill” public relations campaign was born. Pulse created a consumer experience that invited Aussies to experience the ‘thrill’ of the anticipated Carnival Thrill slide, and then invited them to name it. Building on the great Aussie tradition of the slip and slide, Pulse and Carnival created a 30 metre inflatable Slip & Slide, inviting hundreds of Aussies to attempt to break a new world record for the longest distance travelled on a slip and slide in one hour.
Campaign: The world record attempt was held at Cronulla beach, one of Carnival Cruise Lines’ target audience hotspots. Volunteers to break the record, from local Surf Life Savers to Fitness First members and local triathletes, all took part for the love of Slip & Slide and through a carefully orchestrated media campaign. Driven by a fully integrated campaign across Facebook, NOVA Sydney’s breakfast program, and traditional and social media, Aussies were
invited to get involved, break a record, enter their name the slide submission , then watch as the visual content from the day unfolded.
In total, approximately 1.5 million Australians were touched by the ‘Name the Thrill’ slide public relations campaign
- Over 100 local Aussies, watched by over 1,000 spectators, broke a new world record for the longest distance travelled on a slip and slide – 36.24kms in one hour (smashing the previous world record of 26kms)
- In just four days after the event, Carnival Spirit’s Facebook page saw more than 1,000 new fans, over 4,000 page views, 380 comments and likes and over 40,000 impressions of Carnival updates
- In total, over 1,600 names were entered on the Facebook page to name the Thrill Slide, exceeding KPIs seven times
- Key media coverage highlights included a call to action for Aussies to participate in the world record attempt by weather presenter, James Tobin on Weekend Sunrise (reaching 400,000), a call to action for Sydney-siders to attend the event in Sydney Morning Herald’s “what to do this weekend” pages (reaching 600,000) and TimeOut Sydney (reaching 105,000)
- Close to 9 million Australians were reached with messages about the campaign via more than 25 pieces of media coverage