Carnival Builds A-List TV Buys E03IPO29

Carnival Cruise Lines is touting its new television campaign from Cooper & Hayes as its largest ever. But company officials would not say exactly how much they are investing in the effort, which breaks this week on CBS and NBC prime-time shows such as CSI, Survivor, Law & Order, The West Wing and Will & Grace.

According to Christine Arnholt, vice president of marketing at the Miami-based client, the budget for the new effort is well into eight figures. Carnival has increased ad spending annually from $30 million in 2000 to $40 million in 2001. It spent $60 million on ads this year, according to CMR, behind Royal Caribbean, which spent $70 million on ads in 2001. Total media expenditures for the industry’s top eight cruise lines was about $250 million in 2001.

“The media strategy continues to build in terms of the A-list shows,” said Arnholt, adding that the schedule represents a compilation of national network and cable television channels during significant prime-time programs, with additional buys on early-morning and late-night fare. “We wanted to increase exposure and come out as strong as possible.”

There has been a change in creative strategy as well. Prior work, created in 2000 by C&H in Miami, used amateur actors to endorse the cruise experience and lure new customers. The business, according to Ric Cooper, agency president and CEO, depends on repeat travelers.

But this year’s campaign, which carries the new tagline, “So much fun. So many places,” targets first-time cruisers. Three 30-second spots revolve around the 30-year-old cruise line’s brand positioning as “the fun ships.” Shot by director Gordon Clark of Tool in Los Angeles, the commercials feature quick cuts of vacationers enjoying destinations, shipboard amenities and romance.

Instead of voiceover narration, the commercials are set to different classic pop songs such as the Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun,” Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”