In a new promotional campaign unveiled Monday, Carnival Cruise Lines is asking consumers “Didja Ever?” According to a consumer survey commissioned by Carnival earlier this month, nine out of 10 adults have a list of things they wish to accomplish in their lifetime.
So whether “Didja Ever?” means zip lining across a rain forest or jumping into an impromptu performance of “Thriller” between courses at dinner, Carnival says it hopes the new themed campaign will inspire people to try new things and add more fun to their lives.
“As a company that is built upon fun and memorable vacation experiences, we thought that it was time to help Americans put fun on the front burner,” said Jim Berra, Carnival’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “The ‘Didja Ever?’ campaign reminds people it’s time to make their list and start living that list to the fullest.”
Agents and consumers can expect to see “Didja Ever?” promotions via interactive broadcast, online and social media channels. New television spots will appear on major daytime and primetime shows. New online advertising and video which will appear on such sites as YouTube, Yahoo!, Hulu and ABC.com.
Most importantly, though, this new campaign is the line’s first major promotional campaign centered around its Facebook page. Carnival currently has 420,000 Facebook fans.
Driving Consumers to Facebook
Berra says the campaign, developed by Arnold Worldwide, is essentially an extension of the line’s “Fun For All. All For Fun” theming with some new twists. While the line definitely won’t change its overall Fun Ship positioning – considered highly successful within the cruise industry – it will instead focus on one big idea – “Didja Ever?” -- with Facebook at the center.
Beyond the obvious benefit of helping the line build a bigger Facebook presence among consumers, the campaign will also provide another, even more valuable benefit, says Berra: “It’s a way that you can use media to start a dialogue.”
He says that Carnival’s own Web site page has forums frequented by very loyal customers, but Facebook has far bigger reach and a much broader audience including people who have never cruised. He hopes that the banter back and forth on Facebook will be beneficial to both audiences. Clearly, though, the line's goal is to entice more first-time cruisers to learn about the value proposition and ultimate fun of cruising.
In Phase 1 of the campaign, essentially the first 60 days, Berra says Carnival will collect the “Top 100 Firsts” from Facebook fans and others throughout America -- garnered from events and online sites. The cruise line will encourage people to check things off their lists, share experiences through photos and videos, and create once-in-a-lifetime events and memories.
Carnival has given consumers a jump start on that list. “We built a list of 100 'firsts' culled from other sources, and everybody who participates can vote those up or down or add in their own,” Berra says. So in the next 60 days, the list will be finetuned, changed, and then results tabulated and shared.
Phase 2 of the program will turn primarily to fulfilling some consumers’ “firsts” and celebrating as people check things off their list, he says. That effort will be supported by local events and key partnerships soon to be announced. While the entire program might be considered global, given Facebook’s global reach, Berra says contests will only apply in North America, based on various governmental restrictions.
For example, Carnival will give away monthly cruise vacations for four. It will also offer many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that consumers desire – such as telling a lucky consumer they’ll appear on stage as the opening act for their favorite band.
Berra says most of these opportunities will begin in about 60 days and continue through year’s end. But a few loyal past guests will have their “firsts” fulfilled this week by helping Carnival ring in the New Year; the line is the official confetti sponsor of the New Year’s Eve 2011 celebration at New York’s Times Square.
Will there be a campaign tie in with Carnival’s shipboard product? Absolutely yes, although Berra says those elements are still under development. He told Travel Agent that teams were already working on potential tie-ins with shore excursion offerings, photo department opportunities and onboard merchandise sales.
When asked directly if there is any specific element of the new campaign focused on travel agents or utilizing agents as a key element of the promotional approach, Berra’s answer was “not at the point.”
Berra believes the importance of the new campaign for agents is its ability to identify highly specific consumer desires that could help agency marketers create memorable cruise promotions and develop cruise packages that appeal to first time cruisers.
Will the television ads feature an agent call-to-action? Unfortunately, the answer is "no."
Berra responded to that question as follows: “The television advertising will feature a call-to-action directing consumers to our Facebook page. Our goal is to tap into the incredible reach Facebook offers and reach “cruise rookies” who can learn more about Carnival and cruising on our fan page and then go on to book through whatever channel they choose.”
While Berra declined to reveal the dollar value of the entire campaign, he said the dollars are very consistent with what Carnival spent on its 2010 promotional campaign. What’s changed is that the funds will be spent on more events, online media and promotion with Facebook at the core.
The new TV spots utilize slow-motion to capture Carnival cruise fans enthralled in first-time moments. The first in the series features a mom who awes her young boys when she catches air on a wave runner. The spots feature the voice of actor John Krasinski who notes “Now, there’s a first,” and the rock anthem “Bang the Drum” by Todd Rundgren.
Separately, Carnival has also teamed up with Robert Mack, best-selling author of “Happiness From the Inside Out: The Art and Science of Fulfillment” and celebrity life coach, in helping the line spread the word on the health and wellness benefits of trying things for the first time and achieving goals. Mack will be the Carnival spokesperson for the Times Square event.
Instead of telling people to give up bad habits for the coming year, Mack will put forth the philosophy of making 2011 the year to celebrate things you want to do in life and then getting out and doing them. Mack will make some initial media appearances for the line, and while his long-term role needs yet to be sorted out, says Berra, “it’s a great fit between his message and our campaign.”
For example, Mack says one element of success is sharing a goal with other people who will support you and cheer you on. Studies have shown people are up to 10 times more likely to accomplish a goal when they write it down. So Carnival says that if consumers share that wish or “first” with friends on Carnival’s Facebook page as part of the promotion, they’ll have taken the first step toward achieving success.