Cruise travel has moved away from an infant stage, according to David deMerlier, vice president of international marketing at Princess Cruises, based in LA. The brand conducted research to gain a deeper understanding of what constitutes the ultimate travel experience for Chinese consumers, since it was late in entering China.
The results indicated they are looking not only to relax but also to experience new things that change their worldview and be educated through travel, said deMerlier. "It's more than just having fun on a boat."
“Quality and variety of food, as well as life enrichment and self-cultivation, are what Chinese travellers value most," explained Cherry Wang, country director for China for Princess Cruises.
Product-wise, here is the selling point: The liner's premium service, known as Princess Class with a connotation of nobility, offers customised services for Chinese passengers fit for royalty. Customised to what extent? Offerings include the World Leaders’ Dinner and sommelier wine excursions, as well as classes on social etiquette and ballroom dancing.
Offered for the first time on the liner's China cruises, the World Leaders’ Dinner is a recreation of menus served to famous world leaders, such as the official state dinner President Obama hosted for President Hu Jintao at the White House in 2011.
Despite being called Princess Class, the service is designed to appeal to multi-generational groups, though the primary targets are young couples in their 30s. Princess Cruises see itself as making a premium entry in the China market that is a cut above main competitor Royal Caribbean as it competes on a new level for cruises, deMerlier told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
"As other upscale packaged holidays are also key competitors, we are convincing Chinese consumers to choose our cruises rather than a hotel-based trip elsewhere," he pointed out.
"Cruise-category marketing has many conventions, like capturing the range and richness of emotion from the lush glamour of an afternoon tea, to the magic and wonder of sunrises or sunsets at sea, to the consistent warm and welcoming service provided by our experienced crew on a perfect vacation," he said.
While the advertising in China has a different theme and style than Princess Cruises campaigns in North America or Japan, a common thread unifies all: how a Princess cruise offers a "uniquely transformational experience".
"In China, given the market dynamics, we are making a more conscious choice to emphasise the premium nature of the cruises in the content of our work," added Cia Hatzi, McCann's regional business director. "In the English-speaking cruise markets, where they are more developed, we still convey a tone of relaxed elegance. But for China, we also focus on the passenger's transformation."
The campaign consists of TVC, print, digital (website and KOL engagement on Weibo), and trade communications that will run throughout China and subsequently be rolled out into Taiwan, Korea and Southeast Asia as part of Princess Cruises' expansion plans in the region.
McCann China won the business last year, and its efforts guides Princess Cruises not only on advertising but onboard services design as well.
Princess is the third-largest cruise liner worldwide based on total passenger beds, and fourth largest based on annual number of passengers sailed. It operates a fleet of 17 ships (with the 18th launching in June), ranging in size from 2,000 passengers to 3,600 passengers.
Following nautical tradition, new Princess Cruises ships are launched with ceremonial naming of the ship by a specially selected 'godmother', who is an accomplished and celebrated woman. Some of the most noteworthy 'godmothers' who personify the grace, glamour and spirit of the Princess Cruises brand are Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, and most recently, Kate Middleton.
Project title: 2014 China new launch campaign (2014中国启航篇)
Client: Princess Cruises 公主邮轮
Creative agency: McCann Shanghai
Creative Director: Johnson Sheng 盛健松, Lilian Chang 常黎明
Account Director: Cia Hatzi
Art Director: Johnson Sheng 盛健松
Media agency: UM
Production house: GWANTSI production house
Exposure: TV, Print, Outdoor