Royal Caribbean Reviews

BOSTON Royal Caribbean has placed its estimated $75 million ad account into review, the client confirmed. The business for nearly a decade has been handled by Havas’ Arnold (creative) and sister shop MPG (media). first reported the review earlier today.

The Miami-based client spent slightly more than $75 million on domestic ads in 2006, about the same expenditure as the previous year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The account has long been one of Arnold’s largest and highest-profile pieces of business.

Rojek Consulting Group in Cleveland has been hired to facilitate the review and the incumbents have been invited to participate, the client said. The process is expected to conclude by December.

The client issued this statement: “In keeping with best practices, Royal Caribbean has begun a comprehensive review of its brand marketing resources,” said Alice Norsworthy, Royal Caribbean’s svp, marketing. “Our success in building our business and our brand is dependent on identifying the optimal resources aligned to meet our global marketing needs, and developing strong partner relationships and effective teaming models across all of our agency providers.” A client rep offered no elaboration.

An Arnold rep said agency executives would have no comment. MPG could not immediately be reached.

Sources said the incumbents would defend. Arnold in recent years has a good track record at retaining clients in reviews, successfully defending accounts such as Amtrak, the American Legacy Foundation and Fidelity Investments.

Boston-based Arnold added the business in a 1999 review, unseating incumbent McKinney in Durham, N.C., also a unit of Havas. Through the years, the cruise line’s ads have often featured the Iggy Pop tune “Lust for Life” as its soundtrack.

Arnold lost Royal Caribbean sibling line Celebrity Cruises, which spends $30 million annually on ads, to Element 79 in Chicago following a review that concluded in January. (MPG continues to work on Celebrity’s media chores, however.) Arnold had worked on Celebrity since 2002. Talbots, also an Arnold client, put its $20 million business in play earlier this week.

On the plus side, the agency (in tandem with the London office of Nitro) added the $120 million Volvo account in the spring and this week broke ads for the client tagged, “Life is better lived together.” Arnold is also in the running for New Balance’s $20 million business.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with client confirmation and additional information.