Today, Celebrity Cruises kicks off a major new global brand campaign, “Modern Luxury Lives Here,” with sizable digital, social media, television and print coverage. Also leveraging the iconic X in Celebrity's logo, the new campaign is designed to appeal to discerning travelers who love exceptional cuisine, fine wine, luxurious accommodations and rich destination experiences.
The fully integrated campaign will be visible across all channels, most notably TV, digital and social media. An initial peek at the new television ads reveals that the premium line will continue to emphasize value -- building on the strength of last year's "Go Big, Go Better, Go Best" initiative -- as most guests will receive two free perks if they book now.
“Ever since I came back into this job and into this role, one of the things that excited me the most is that now I have the opportunity to do for Celebrity what I have wanted to do for the brand – to really catapult it to the position it rightfully deserved,” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity's president and CEO, tells Travel Agent.
She assumed her present post about a year ago after a stint at Royal Caribbean International and told Travel Agent about her vision for the brand at that time. Now, a year later, she stressed that many key travel partners have told her: “Your brand is so great you need to be able to tell people that. Nobody does what you do. Help us sell your brand the way it needs to be sold.”
What is launching today is what she believes will do just that. Timingwise, the campaign launches as the cruise industry shifts into prime sales mode for Wave Season.
"We're launching this campaign on the busiest week [for sales] and at the busiest time of the year," Lutoff-Perlo said. "We're significantly increasing our marketing investment for the first quarter 2016."
Searching for Marco Polo
The cruise line's new TV spots, named “Marco Polo,” offer a modern interpretation of the well-known game of "call and response" from childhood days gone by. In the spots, Celebrity Cruises staff members beckon like-minded travelers to answer the call of modern luxury.
The spots target those who would appreciate the experience that Celebrity delivers, just as Marco Polo was an explorer of the world who loved to discover and travel the globe. This creative will be complemented by additional 15- and 30-second TV spots that will debut later this month, and Lutoff-Perlo said those will also show what makes Celebrity so special.
The campaign marks the first public manifestation of Celebrity's collaboration with its new global creative agency, Venables Bell & Partners (VB&P). “We are excited about the way 'Modern Luxury Lives Here' shows just how unique Celebrity is, and I love how our crew members and staff appear in our 'Marco Polo' spot,” Lutoff-Perlo said.
“The entire campaign brings to life, through storytelling and beautiful cinematography, some of our most important values, such as curiosity, discernment and experiences over possessions," she said. "No one delivers modern luxury more comprehensively than Celebrity, and this campaign clearly communicates that message."
She told us that "Venables had never worked in the cruise category before," but that this boutique creative agency strongly appealed to Celebrity because it did have significant experience in luxury brands.
Recruitment Drive for Luxury Travelers
"This is a recruitment drive," according to Paul Venables, chairman, VB&P. "We are calling out to not just those who cruise but to all modern luxury travelers.
"The fact is, Celebrity offers a superior modern luxury experience, and we have to break the usual category conventions to serve that up to discerning vacationers," Venables said.
Social media-wise, consumers will be invited to share their vacation stories on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest using #celebritycruises. The cruise line also says in its release that "best-in-class social media experiences will feature engaging and innovative content by way of both paid and organic media as well as static mosaics and carousels on Instagram, promoted tweets on Twitter, and dynamic product ads on Facebook."
The campaign will build on the hallmarks of a Celebrity vacation including dining, accommodations, service, destination experiences and modern luxury style.
"Nuancing" Modern Luxury
When Celebrity was reviewing various proposals from agencies, Lutoff-Perlo found three things she liked about the Venables' presentation. First, they didn't suggest Celebrity get rid of the Modern Luxury monicker it's been using for the past few years.
Contrary to it, she said Venables' research showed that "Modern Luxury is working hard for your brand from everyone we talk to." So that was elevated, or as Lutoff-Perlo said, "nuanced" as the overarching campaign or prime brand theme.
The second thing she liked about the agency's approach was that they said: "Don't try to hide you're a cruise line." Some of Celebrity's competitors have positioned themselves as anti-cruise, not showing the typical maritime or ocean scenes, but "we're not going to do that," Lutoff-Perlo said.
Instead, "we're going to convince people we’re a vacation they didn’t expect," she said, or that if they had certain negative perceptions, those are wrong. The campaign is designed to make people think differently -- "not to think we aren't a cruise but to think differently."
And thirdly, the agency wanted to retain the line's long-time X logo, originating from the 1980s when Celebrity was owned by the Chandris Group of Greek shipping fame. The signature "Χ" displayed on the funnel of Celebrity's ships is the Greek letter "chi."
"It's a strong and powerful symbol," Lutoff-Perlo emphasized. "By using it, we strengthen the brand, and it lets people know it's Celebrity right away."
Increased Television Buy
With the new campaign, Celebrity will also be doing more TV, according to Lutoff-Perlo. Agents can expect to see the spots on national TV cable programming in such channels as Bravo, HGTV, the Travel Channel and so on. But additionally, the line will also do more local TV advertising in such markets as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and other cities.
Celebrity will be doing more digital marketing, digital organic search and digital advertising, along with consumer and trade print advertising. Look for print consumer ads in such publications as Bon Appetit, Food and Wine and other publications where it makes the most sense to appeal to "Modern Luxury" travelers, she said.
Within the local markets across the country, consumers will be "hyper-targeted" with digital and direct mail by zip code. Lutoff-Perlo says her brand now knows precisely, based on the efforts of Media Storm, exactly where to target the campaign features. Thanks to analytics and research, Celebrity knows exactly where people live if they have booked an Alaska cruise, for example.
"We are also working with our trade partners and our sales force around the country to put out the same messaging and to assist partners with local newspaper, TV and magazine ads," plus there will be trade ads. "The Celebrity look and feel will be the same everywhere."
The brand will also use accolades provided by magazines and industry entitities to help sway guests. So you'll see ads that focus on wins in such categories as "best premium cruise line" or "best culinary cruise experience." For the first time, the premium brand also will use its own crew and team as well as affluent travelers to tell the story through their different experiences.
One 30-second TV spot is airing this week with other 15- and 30-second spots to be added on January 25; they'll run throughout Wave Season. The line also will show these TV spots prior to every movie show onboard its ships including those in the theater. They'll also be shown on the rooftop terrace with a big screen just added to Infinity.
"We’re also looking at doing different things with crew," said Lutoff Perlo, citing the value of crew communications and the importance of making sure messages are consistent.
Invested in the Process
Since taking over as president and CEO, Lutoff-Perlo has been also serving as Celebrity's chief marketing executive. "I'm very connected to all of this, and whether there was a head of marketing or not, I think I would have been involved," she stressed.
Not surprisingly, Lutoff-Perlo is enthusiastically bullish on the brand: "I really believe everything we’ve done and how we’re positioning the brand."
The agency has announced the hiring of Accenture to completely rebuild the line's digital agency and online technology platform. As a result, all the steps are coming together for a "significant long-term impact for Celebrity," Lutoff-Perlo emphasized. "It's what my first year has been all about."