Delta Queen is launching a review for its estimated$8-10 million advertising account at a critical time for parent company American Classic Voyages.
The Miami-based riverboat cruise operator lost $10 million last year and has continued to add debt as it seeks to build new ships and upgrade others. To help shore up its losses, ACV is relying on "expand[ed] sales and marketing to fill the passenger berths in our expanded fleet at profitable rates," according to a company document.
A new marketing initiative is being spearheaded by Scott McGinnis, the newly hired vice president of marketing of the Delta Queen products group. Just one month into his tenure, McGinnis has put Delta Queen's ad contract into review.
Fifteen-year incumbent Peter A. Mayer Advertising in New Orleans has been invited to participate. A total of 10 Southeast and Northeast agencies have been contacted, sources said, in-cluding The Zimmerman Agency, Tallahassee, Fla.; Eisner Communications, Baltimore; McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C.; Korey, Kay & Partners and Pedone & Partners, both New York; Bozell Kamstra, Pittsburgh; and Fitzgerald + Co., Atlanta.
McGinnis said he wants a midsize agency with travel, though not necessarily cruise, experience. The ideal partner is one "who has experience in push-pull programs using both media and direct mail," he said.
In conjunction with Peter A. Mayer Advertising, the company began repositioning its riverboat cruises this spring with the tagline, "The rivers of Delta Queen: as vast as your imagination."
The new advertising focuses less on the company's old-fashioned paddleboats and more on the cruises' inland and coastal destinations.
"We can't make the boats the only thing. It was beginning to skew—our market was getting older and older," said agency management supervisor David Crane. "We're now going for a younger, more active senior."