Celebrity Cruises Seeks New Creative Agency of Record

By Patrick Coffee Comment

The latest chapter in the Royal Caribbean organization’s ongoing review of all its agency relationships involves Celebrity Cruises, one of the six separate travel brands owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

Over the weekend, a spokesperson for Celebrity confirmed that the brand is “currently conducting a closed search for a creative agency of record” after going without an AOR for several years.

The more familiar Royal Caribbean brand announced its global creative review back in February, just under a year after longtime RC International chief Adam Goldstein was promoted to the president/COO role at the parent organization.

After Goldstein moved up, he named Michael Bayley–the long-serving CEO of Celebrity, which was first acquired by Royal Caribbean in 1997–to his former role as chief executive at Royal Caribbean International as Lisa Lutoff-Perlo stepped up to run the Celebrity organization. Goldstein also facilitated the departure of SVP of Marketing Carol Shuster, who previously spent several years with the Ogilvy organization; her replacement has yet to be named.

Celebrity launched an agency review in 2002 and awarded its business to Arnold Worldwide, which was also AOR for Royal Caribbean. The agency proceeded to create several TV campaigns under then-GCD and Managing Partner Pete Favat, now CCO at Deutsch L.A. (Digitas handled various marketing initiatives for the client at the time). Arnold eventually lost both accounts when Royal Caribbean launched concurrent reviews in 2006, awarding its main business to JWT and handing Celebrity to Omnicom’s Element79.

The client then decided to take its marketing efforts in-house–but this setup changed slightly in 2010 when Celebrity called on creative agencies to submit “ideas” at $50,000 a pop. Droga5 was rumored to be the “last shop standing” in the project-based partner pitch, but the agency’s name did not appear on any major subsequent work for the client.

Celebrity launched “Remember Everything,” its first notable ad campaign in several years, in April 2014 and attributed the work to its own “in-house creative leadership team.” The company now plans to expand its fleet in the coming years in order to solidify its status as RC’s upscale line; in late 2014 the line ordered two new ships to “build upon the modern luxury experience,” and it recently announced a three-tiered pricing structure.

Most prominently, today Celebrity named Kate McCue captain of its “Celebrity Summit.” She is the first American woman to run “a mega-ton cruise ship.”

Regarding the organization’s other reviews, TBWA London eventually won U.K. duties for Royal Caribbean, with the newly-christened Mullen Lowe beating Deutsch N.Y., Droga5 and 22squared to win the North American business in May. Finally, Mediahub picked up the media account in June.

Celebrity Cruises has not provided any information regarding the agencies participating in the review at this time. According to Kantar Media, the larger Royal Caribbean organization spent $20 million marketing the brand in 2009, the last year for which we have these numbers.

This is the company’s most recent “brand essence” video in case you needed a refresher:

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