Celebrity Cruises Picks TBWA’s Lucky Generals as Global Creative Agency of Record

McCann, BBH were the other finalists

The account had been with Venables Bell & Partners. Celebrity Cruises
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Celebrity Cruises, part of the Royal Caribbean group, has awarded its global creative account to London-based Lucky Generals. The decision, which came down several weeks ago, followed a competitive review managed by the company’s internal team, said CMO and agency veteran Peter Giorgi.

According to two parties close to the matter, the other shops involved in the pitch were McCann New York and BBH. A spokesperson for the former agency declined to comment, and the latter has not responded to an email request for comment. Lucky Generals referred to the client.

The news comes as Celebrity Cruises completes a $500 million plan to upgrade the fleet to include luxury elements of its newest ship, Celebrity Edge. It also marks the end of the brand’s relationship with indie agency Venables Bell & Partners, which won the business in 2015.

"There were no creative deliverables at all in the RFP. We didn’t even allow the agencies to use screens in the rooms."
Peter Giorgi, CMO, Celebrity Cruises

Unlike most reviews, Giorgi classified this one as an informal, personal search. “I started it by going to agencies personally, spending two to three hours with key folks talking about brands and the business,” said the CMO, who assumed the role in 2016 after working in Airbnb’s marketing department and spending more than eight years at CP+B.

He described the agencies he chose to participate in the review as shops “that I respected; that I thought could be interesting,” adding, “I wanted to see their offices, the atmosphere, and understand how they do what they do in the place where they do it.”

After the three competitors were chosen, the entire process lasted less than five weeks from RFP to final presentation, he said. “There were no creative deliverables at all in the RFP,” Giorgi told Adweek. “We didn’t even allow the agencies to use screens in the rooms.”

This stripped-down approach, he noted, came from the knowledge that “agency folks are masters of manipulation” and a desire to find a partner that would approach the travel category more strategically.

Giorgi called VB&P “a great agency” but said the brand is now looking to market itself in a more global way.

“Lucky Generals’ passion for our business, brand and guests was incredibly inspiring,” read a statement from Celebrity president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who said the agency “shares our values, energy and desire for innovation.”

Omnicom’s TBWA network acquired Lucky Generals in February 2017 and created a new U.K.-based group by pairing it with TBWA\London. Since then, the shop has been best known for its Amazon work, including this year’s star-studded 90-second Super Bowl spot “Alexa Loses Her Voice,” and Budweiser’s World Cup activations.

Moving forward, the agency will collaborate with both Celebrity’s internal creative team and its production partners at companies like Tool of North America. Giorgi said there are no specific plans for a major broadcast campaign in the coming months.

International consultancy R3 estimated the brand’s annual global spend at $30 million.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.