Celebrity to Element 79

BOSTON Celebrity Cruises said it has hired Omnicom Group’s Element 79 for its ad account, which had been held by Havas’ Arnold here since 2002.

Celebrity spent $15 million on ads through September 2006 after an outlay of slightly less than $30 million in 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“Celebrity is one of the world’s highest-rated cruise lines and they have great growth plans. They are adding two 710-guest ships this year, and will launch three extraordinary 2,850-guest ships over the next few years. That’s a lot more berths to fill, and we’re extremely proud that they’ve selected us as their partner to help do so,” said Brian Williams, CEO of Element 79.

Though Element 79 adds the cruise line’s creative assignment, media duties stay at Arnold sibling MPG, the client said.

Chicago-based Element 79 and Arnold competed against other undisclosed contenders in a review launched late last year [Adweek Online, Nov. 22].

Arnold’s most recent work included broadcast and print ads touting the cruise line’s ability to make passengers feel like celebrities.

Sources cited creative dissatisfaction as a key review driver.

Celebrity is a unit of Miami-based Royal Caribbean, which also works with Arnold. The Royal Caribbean brand spent $75 million in measured media in 2005 and more than $60 million in the first three quarters of 2006.

“We have enjoyed helping Celebrity grow their business and their brand over the past five years and wish them the best of luck in the future,” said Pam Hamlin, president of Arnold’s Boston office, in a statement. “We love the cruise industry and look forward to our continued partnership with Royal Caribbean.”

Royal Caribbean ranks as the No. 2 cruise company, trailing Carnival Corp. The entire industry has been hurt by rising fuel costs, and Royal Caribbean saw its third-quarter net income slip 8 percent to $345 million, though its revenue rose 9 percent to $1.65 billion, compared to the same period last year.

Celebrity operates nine ships that sail to the Caribbean, Europe, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, South America, Alaska, Bermuda, California and the Panama Canal.

Arnold in late November confirmed cutting 40 staffers, or about 5 percent of its staff, but agency CEO Fran Kelly at the time said the layoffs were in large part designed to boost efficiency and did not stem from any specific client cutbacks or losses.