Spirit Cruises Assigns Media

Rockett Burkhead & Winslow has landed the media account of Spirit Cruises, the client confirmed.

The Raleigh, N.C., shop bested Eisner Communications, Baltimore, and O’Brien Et Al Advertising, Virginia Beach, Va. Incumbent Hambright Calgano & Browning, also in Virginia Beach, did not participate in the review.

The annual budget is $3-4 million, said agency co-chief executive officer Scott Burkhead

Creative is handled by a network of vendors and in-house designers.

“We were impressed with RB&W’s analysis,” said Elizabeth Pond, Spirit’s national marketing manager. “In their presentations they were able to touch on numerous case studies that showed some integrative ideas and programs from ZIP code analysis to in-mall advertising to radio and television.”

The Norfolk, Va., client, a unit of Sodexho USA in Gaithersburg, Md., is one of the largest harbor cruise firms in the U.S. Spirit operates 14 dining ships, yachts and riverboats in port cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Norfolk and Richmond, Va. The line competes against World Yacht of New York and Odyssey Cruises in Chicago.

Spirit, whose revenue has slipped in recent quarters, also vies with other dining and entertainment attractions in each of its seven markets.

The client called a review when it realized consumers were not distinguishing its brand from other harbor cruise lines, according to Burkhead.

“The heart of the [request for proposal] dealt with the ability to manage the brand as a whole while making sure each individual market gets the kind of media pressure it needs,” Burkhead said.

RB&W plans to target three audiences in each city: travel and tour wholesalers, corporate marketing groups and consumers. Different combinations of print, outdoor, radio and television advertising will break this month. Consumer ads will appear in a target city’s daily newspapers.

Burkhead said some media buys, such as in The New York Times and metro magazines, will target both tourists and residents.

“The experiences in each city are different,” said Burkhead. “We took [the client] through [review] exercises that showed how a dinner on a paddleboat is different from a cruise on the Potomac.”