Dramatic Marketing Shift for Crystal Elicits Emotional Reasons for Cruising


Mimi Weisband, VP of public relations and Jack Anderson, senior VP of marketing and sales for Crystal Cruises // Photo by Ruthanne Terrero

Crystal Cruises has launched an entirely new branding campaign that uses the mantra, “Begin a new story.” New print ads appeared in May consumer publications and the theme will soon appear in trade and e-newsletter campaigns, in online banner ads and on the luxury cruise line’s website. It also runs entirely through Crystal’s 2013 World Atlas brochure, which is being mailed to its key travel agency accounts this week.

The graphics are collages of elegant images that could be found in a travel journal, with scripted diary notes and photos recalling memories of a day that could have been enjoyed sailing with Crystal. Of note are the watercolor paintings used to whimsically depict iconic travel images in a delicate manner. To produce the series, Crystal engaged nine watercolorists to create the images.

The campaign aims to bring in to play the emotional reason for traveling and seeks to move away from highlighting pricing and deals that have become prevalent in selling luxury cruises, said Mimi Weisband, vice president of public relations for Crystal, who noted that the long list of awards Crystal has won over the years have also been removed from the cover of the World Atlas.

“We’ve all been talking about the features and benefits of taking a luxury cruise,” said Jack Anderson, Crystal’s senior vice president of marketing and sales, in reference to the small circle of luxury cruise lines that compete against each other. “We’ve all been using the photos of the couple at the railing and the photos of our specialty restaurants. It’s all a sea of sameness,” he said.

Anderson, who came on board last July, said that calling attention to awards and two for ones and free drinks don’t appeal to the emotional aspect of the luxury purpose. “The consumer is thinking, ‘What’s in it for me? What feelings and memories I get out of this cruise?’” he said.

Anderson, who calls this a dramatic shift for Crystal, said that the new ads are meant to draw the reader in to the experience first and foremost, without any mention of pricing. He pointed to other purveyors of luxury products, such as Tiffany and Chanel, that do not go anywhere close to mentioning pricing or bonus perks in their print advertising. “They are providing emotional bonding experiences in their ads,” he said. For that reason as well, pricing is not found on the pages of the 2013 World Atlas, instead, it is listed in a separate piece that is inserted into the overall book.

Along those lines, Weisband added that the cruise line recently launched a Facebook campaign, inviting customers to recall their “Crystal love stories.”

“Not one person cited the awards that Crystal has won over 18 years in a row or talked about what they would save when taking a cruise. They shared their passion for the world and talked about where they want to go next,” she said.

The series of ads invite readers in with such credos as, “We believe a voyage should take you further than your destination” and “We believe the road less traveled isn’t a road at all.” The ads are meant to appeal to Crystal’s core customer group, “who are leading great lives; sailing with us is an extension of those lives,” said Weisband.

Travel advisors have their own inspiring ads, which use the directive, “You present your clients the world, we reserved a piece for you,” and relates to Crystal’s “Book three staterooms and we’ll reserve a fourth for you,” trade initiative. The cruise line has also created a lovely series of “Begin a new story” videos that travel agents can use to show to their clients. Consumers can also view the videos using “Aurasma” technology by holding their phone over the new print ads.

Crystal is also about to launch an iPhone “Storyteller” app, which allows cruisers on the line to take a photo of their vacation, style it so that it’s sepia or black and white, for instance; put a virtual frame around it and write a note about their experience in a scripted font. It can then be sent in an email, uploaded to Facebook or turned in to a printed postcard that can be mailed. The postcard feature should particularly appeal to travel agents, who can mail the card to their clients, said Weisband.

Separately from the “Begin a new story,” campaign, Crystal has evolved its logo to say, “The all-inclusive Crystal Cruises.” The basic logo remains the same, however, the all-inclusive moniker refers to the fact that this year, Crystal begins including alcohol to its pricing. The Crystal Symphony went all inclusive in March and the Crystal Serenity goes all inclusive May 8.

The early launch of the 2013 atlas brochure is significant because it includes some 2014 voyages and enables travel agents to start selling now, said Weisband. They can also take advantage of incentives in place to reserve cruises early. Crystal did not publish a World Atlas in 2012, since its shift to all-inclusive pricing occurred part way through the year, she said.

Visit www.crystalcruises.com

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