Carnival Cruise Lines “Pinata”

Cruising’s in for a bruising with the economy sinking fast. So you’ve got to credit Havas’ Arnold for generating plenty of buzz for Carnival Cruise Lines, even before its “Fun for all. All for fun” branding campaign breaks in earnest before year’s end.

The event-marketing engine was just warming up with last month’s giant beach ball stunt in Dallas. That effort spawned dozens of news stories in media outlets as far away as Europe and Asia — but this past weekend’s giant pinata in Philadelphia has taken on a life of its own.

The pre-event buildup was impressive, and the post-show coverage simply won’t quit. The barn-size pinata was supposed to be destroyed by a wrecking ball, its 8,000 pounds of candy raining down on the cheering crowed below. Owning to a “technical difficulty,” the pinata remains intact, guarded by the cops and inspiring an inordinate share of largely positive publicity for Carnival. Footage from the stunts will ultimately grace TV commercials and Web videos.

The overall goal is to reinforce the brand’s image for delivering — what else? — fun. So far, the news media and a fair number of consumers have been appropriately amused, raising Carnival’s profile at a time you’d expect it to dip and effectively setting the stage for the ads to come. –David Gianatasio