Skift Take

As Norwegian Cruise Line prepares to expand globally, the line is embracing a new brand message that it hopes will resonate internationally. Because “Cruise like a Norwegian” just made some people think of Norway.

The question some have been asking for the last four years — what does it mean to cruise like a Norwegian? — is being answered in Norwegian Cruise Line’s new brand campaign.

Replacing the former message, in place since 2011, is a simple two-word mantra: “Feel Free.”

As in: “Feel free to follow the sun instead of a schedule.” Or: “Feel free to find your happy place.” Also, as the cruise line has done before, feel free to include the recording artist Pitbull. He raps lines including “Makes me feel free” and “Get on a ship and cruise the world” on the 30-second ad (see below).

Norwegian worked with BBDO Atlanta and OMD to create the campaign, which launched Monday.

The cruise operator is taking the spot to prime-time TV on home improvement, food, travel, news, and sports channels. Ads will also appear on online video sites, digital outlets, and social media. The company did not say what it is spending on the global blitz.

“It’s significant, and it’s a significant increase versus where we’ve been historically,” said chief marketing officer Meg Lee.

During the first-quarter heavy booking stretch known as wave season, the message coincides with Norwegian’s “Free at Sea” promotion, offering a choice of Wi-Fi, shore excursions, specialty dining, or unlimited drinks for no additional charge on trips that last five or more days.

That approach — add value rather than slash fares — is trumpeted by Frank Del Rio, who became CEO of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings a year ago. He has said his goal is to improve the quality of Norwegian ships so passengers will be willing to pay more for a ticket and spend more during their trip.

That emphasis on higher passenger spending means plenty of amenities onboard actually cost money. But Lee said the term “free” builds on the concepts of freestyle cruising and freedom and flexibility — letting passengers choose what they want when they want it —  that the company pioneered.

“We are uniquely able to use free because we deliver it,” she said. “We deliver on what that promise is, and in addition, throughout the shopping and buying experience, you get to think about what you’d like to include for free.”

She said the previous “Cruise like a Norwegian” campaign worked well for the company, but as it builds a presence in growing international markets such as China and Australia, the message needed an update. Consumer research showed that many just associated the earlier phrase with Norway.

“People understand what it means to want to feel free everywhere,” Lee said. “We knew that if we were going to expand globally, we really needed to find something that translated more easily across languages and cultures.”


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Tags: cruise, marketing, norwegian cruise line

Photo credit: Norwegian Cruise Line's new brand campaign ties in to its wave season "Free at Sea" promotion. Norwegian Cruise Line

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