Just 18 months ago, the cruise industry found itself in the center of the pandemic storm as stories of outbreaks flooded the news and travel ground to a halt.
Fast forward to today, and the world is in a different place. People are vaccinated and ready to travel, leading Celebrity Cruises to set sail on June 28, 2021 after a 16-month hiatus on the seas. It was the first cruise company to set sail in the U.S. since the pandemic.
Now, Celebrity is ready to make a big marketing splash. On Thursday, it revealed a mulit-million dollar global brand campaign and new direction that marks its largest marketing push ever.
The 60-second spot is a wanderlusty compilation of images of Celebrity cruise ships and far-flung ports, set to a cover of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. The campaign starts and ends with the question, “Isn’t it time?”, interspersed with phrases such as “to see the world again” and “to treat ourselves.”
The idea came from Celebrity’s PR agency, Good Relations, alongside feedback from customers who had recently been on Celebrity cruise ships and felt the experience was both safe and exciting, said Michael Scheiner, CMO at Celebrity. Media was bought by VCCP.
“People are ready to get back to normal in some way, whatever the new normal might be,” he said. “That gave us confidence we should be talking more than we had been.”
Celebrity produced the 60-second spot in-house entirely with stock footage, a decision made due to the difficulty of filming during the pandemic and the speed it wanted to turn around the campaign. The activation made diversity a focus, including people with a broad range of backgrounds to mirror Celebrity’s customer base.
In addition to its brand direction, Celebrity has changed many protocols on its ships. All crew and eligible guests must be fully vaccinated, and all passengers are tested for COVID-19 before boarding. Thanks to these protocols, just 0.08% of guests have tested positive for COVID-19 on a Celebrity Cruise ship since it set sail in June, according to the company.
Acknowledging recent developments with the Delta variant, Scheiner emphasized the campaign doesn’t imply people should travel or sail on cruise ships if they’re not comfortable.
“‘Isn't it time?’ can mean something different for everyone,” he said. “By no means are we suggesting if you're not comfortable you should get out there. But there is often a sentiment that cruising is not [safe], and when you look at the protocols we have in place, the people sailing with us and the experience they've had so far, this is a very safe place to be.”