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