Celebrity Cruises Plays a Giant Psychic Game of Marco Polo in This Ambitious (but Puzzling) Ad

Polo ...?

If you hear voices beckoning you to take a luxury cruise—or you feel an indescribable urge to whisper "Polo" into your coffee cup—Celebrity Cruises might be calling to you.

Venables Bell & Partners' first ad for the brand peddles the ship trips with an unusual globe-spanning game of Marco Polo: Crew members yell the "Marco" call, while confused potential customers—miles away, living their busy city lives—deliver the response, "Polo," without fully seeming to understand why.

It's not a terrible way to suggest adventure awaits, even if the actual product is a floating hotel. But the ad could just as easily be selling anti-psychosis medication—although if you start hallucinating, we don't suggest committing to a lengthy stay confined at sea with a couple thousand booze-guzzling humans. See a doctor instead. 

Celebrity is billing its services as modern luxury, promising savings of up to $2,150—which makes a viewer wonder how much the trip could possibly cost to begin with. (A quick search shows a seven-night cruise to Bermuda, leaving from Cape Liberty, N.J., starts at about $709. By comparison, a similar nine-night cruise to Bermuda leaving from Baltimore on Royal Caribbean—which owns Celebrity—starts from about $846.) 

Meanwhile, print ads—shown below—promise fine wine, chocolate and grass (the kind that grows in lawns, that is, in case you care for a game of bocce ball, or a picnic). The visuals make use of the X that echoes the one in Celebrity's logo.

Overall, it's way mellower than the pumped-up, colorful montages Mullen launched this past fall to lure millennials to Royal Caribbean. A more reserved, soothing approach may be appropriate, since Celebrity owns the dubious reputation of an outsized number of on-board stomach illnesses. But it also needn't worry—the threat of barfing your brains out is actually fairly low, statistically speaking, and was, according to estimates last year, not enough to stop the overall industry from growing in 2015.

CREDITS

—TV
Client: Celebrity Cruises
Spot: "Marco Polo"
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
Founder, Chairman: Paul Venables
Partner, Executive Creative Director: Will McGinness
Creative Director: Erich Pfeifer
Senior Art Director: Rich North
Senior Copywriter: Ryan Hoercher
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Executive Producer: Mandi Holdorf
Agency Producer: Ryan Wilson
Director of Art Production: Jacqueline Fodor
Executive Strategy Director: Lucy Farey-Jones
Senior Brand Strategist: Mike Riley
Motion Designers: Victor Bivol, Zac Wollons
Production Company: Humble
Directors: Samuel and Gunnar
Director of Photography: Carlos Veron
Executive Producer: Mark Kovaks
Editing Company: Exile
Editor: Elliot Graham
Sound Design: 740 Sound
Sound Designers: Scott Ganary, Jeff Martin
Music: South
Mix: Lime
Visual Effects: The Mill
Visual Effects Producer: Antonio Hardy
Graphic Effects: Lumberyard
Graphic Effects Artists: Victor Bivol, Zac Wollons
Business Lead: Colleen McGee
Account Supervisor: Krista Muir
Account Manager: Ariel Rosen
Assistant Account Manager: Francesca Robertson
Project Managers: Talya Fisher, Leah Murphy
Director of Business Affairs: Susan Conklin
Proofreader: Michael Rosenthal
Studio Manager: Jennifer Trull
Studio: Will Larsen, Natalie Cowan

—Print/ Outdoor
Client: Celebrity Cruises
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
Executive Creative Directors: Paul Venables, Will McGinness
Creative Director: Erich Pfeifer
Senior Art Director: Rich North
Senior Copywriter: Ryan Hoercher
Design Director: Cris Logan
Designer: Blake Johnston
Studio Manager: Jennifer Trull
Studio: Will Larsen, Natalie Cowan
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Production House: Pacific Digital Image
Director of Art Production: Jacqueline Fodor
Print Producers: Michelle Wells, Shelly Amin
Art Buyers: Shelly Amin, Renee Hodges
Photographer: Maren Caruso
Senior Brand Strategist: Mike Riley
Business Lead: Colleen McGee
Account Supervisor: Krista Muir
Account Manager: Ariel Rosen
Assistant Account Manager: Francesca Robertson
Senior Project Manager: Talya Fisher
Project Manager: Leah Murphy
Director of Business Affairs: Susan Conklin
Proofreader: Michael Rosenthal

—Digital
Client: Celebrity Cruises
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
Executive Creative Directors: Paul Venables, Will McGinness
Creative Director: Erich Pfeifer
Senior Art Director: Rich North
Senior Copywriter: Ryan Hoercher
Senior Brand Strategist: Mike Riley
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Director of Art Production: Jacqueline Fodor
Design Director: Cris Logan
Designers: Blake Johnston, Nicola Broderick
Studio Manager: Jennifer Trull
Studio: Will Larsen, Natalie Cowan
Digital Development: StangaOne
Producer: Adela Chung
Business Lead: Colleen McGee
Account Supervisor: Krista Muir
Account Manager: Ariel Rosen
Assistant Account Manager: Francesca Robertson
Senior Project Manager: Talya Fisher
Project Manager: Leah Murphy
Director of Business Affairs: Susan Conklin
Proofreader: Michael Rosenthal