Four Spots Compete to Win Carnival’s BBDO Super Bowl Campaign

By Patrick Coffee 

Marketing Challenge Site Carnival Corporation

This morning we learned that BBDO will have not one but three spots airing during the next Super Bowl:

  • Bud Light, produced by Energy BBDO out of Chicago
  • Snickers via BBDO New York
  • Carnival Corporation, with creative by the shop’s Atlanta unit

The release we received from Carnival PR this morning tells us a good bit about the last project, which will mark the cruise line’s first Super Bowl appearance. The ad will be directed by Academy Award winner/longtime Christopher Nolan cinematographer Wally Pfister with Cedric the Entertainer playing host.


Here’s the rub: the party responsible for choosing which of four competing concepts will eventually run during the game won’t be anyone at BBDO or Carnival — it will be the public at large. As the Entertainer himself puts it, “the idea is to change people’s misconceptions about cruising.”

Check out the lineup below.

The project, which spearheads a “new multi-brand marketing initiative,” also gives average Americans “the chance to provide Carnival Corporation with input on its new advertising creative” — so the “World’s Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge” bears a very slight resemblance to Family Feud with Cedric standing in for Steve Harvey.

The company already eliminated several concepts and arrived at this group of four thanks, in part, to “consumer voting and input.” All four are currently “under the artful direction” of Pfister and the BBDO Atlanta team, and the just-launched elimination round will narrow the group down to two.

Here’s the first self-explanatory spot, “Getaway”:

Next comes “Cruise Virgins,” which may or may not be appropriate for all audiences:

“Message in a Bottle” goes lighter on the innuendo and heavier on the sentiment:

Last comes “Mystery Spot,” which is really just a tease:

So which one will win? Carnival CEO Arnold Donald has some thoughts:

“I personally think some of the concepts are better than others, but what really matters is what millions of guests think.”

We’re going to guess that he liked the ad behind door number 3. We also asked Ken Jones, VP of marketing at Carnival, to elaborate on the agency/client relationship:

“We are extremely proud of the work and very proud to have partnered with BBDO Atlanta on its development. To their credit, the agency spent a lot of time working with us to understand our business and our strategic intent as it relates to airing in the Super Bowl and the overall multi-brand marketing initiative to reach new cruisers. They challenged us, we challenged them and the result was a collaborative effort that generated really great work.”

It would seem that the “public providing creative input” trend is here to stay. Consumers have to visit the campaign site (which will be promoted via Carnival’s social media feeds) to weigh in, so hurry up and use every available IP address — just don’t make Cedric sad by trying to vote more than once every 24 hours.

Super Bowl XLIX airs on Sunday, February 1st. May the best ad win.