Celebrity Tells Harris One Word: ‘Congratulations’

By Nora FitzGerald and Katy Eckmann

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Harris Drury Cohen of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sailed away with the $15 million Celebrity Cruises account last week, leaving behind co-finalist Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy of Charlotte, N.C., on a Los Angeles dock.

Celebrity senior vice president of marketing Art Sbarsky had a letter delivered to HDC principal Stan Harris last Wednesday that said only, ‘Congratulations.’ Harris found out he won the account on his birthday, May 7, just one day after the final presentation. There was a great deal of suspense in the review, since the long list of contenders was winnowed to five finalists that also included the incumbent, Korey, Kay & Partners, New York, and BBDO and Austin Kelley Advertising, both Atlanta.

‘In the end, I think it was the creative that did it,’ said Stan Harris, who added that he would be discussing staffing and assignments with the client over the next few days.

The most recent duel presentation involved the refinement of previously shown advertising, plus new creative work, according to Sbarsky. The decision was made after the two finalists presented the material to 10 executives on board Celebrity’s new ship, Galaxy, which was docked in Los Angeles last week. ‘It was a unanimous vote (in favor of HDC),’ Sbarsky said.

Both HDC and LKM were asked to retool the advertising efforts they pitched in mid-April, Sbarsky said, and were ‘offered the option’ to do additional creative work. Sbarsky declined to comment on the specifics of either assignment, but said branding ‘had a lot to do with it.’

Harris said his agency offered six creative campaigns, but he had no idea which one, if any, Celebrity might use. He did get his first assignment: a magazine ad.

The client is considering whether to keep its current advertising tagline, ‘Exceeding expectations.’

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