Norwegian Cruise Line Taps Martin for $50 Million Account

GSD&M Had Account for Six Years

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After six years at Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Norwegian Cruise Line is shifting its estimated $50 million marketing account to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency.

Martin emerged the winner in a review that began at the start of 2011, and in the final round it beat three other shops: sibling McCann Erickson, WPP-owned Grey, and the incumbent.

A GSD&M spokeswoman said: "It's been a great six years, we wish them well." For GSD&M the loss is the third significant account to depart the agency in less than a year; it parted ways with BMW and lost Mastercard's media account in the back half of 2010.

As part of the review, which was managed by Boston-based consultancy Pile & Co., a key criteria for the cruise line was selecting an agency with experience churning out attention-grabbing TV ads. At Martin, Norwegian Cruise joins a roster that includes Pizza Hut, Walmart, Tylenol, Expedia and Geico.

"We were looking for an agency partner to help us create brand desire for our unique proposition in a highly engaging and relevant way," Maria Miller, Norwegian Cruise Line's senior VP-marketing, said in a statement. " The Martin Agency impressed us with their creative and thoughtful approach to our brand.

According to Kantar Media, Norwegian Cruise spent about $50 million on domestic measured media in 2009 and 2010. Martin's assignment includes strategic and creative development, media planning and buying, and digital duties. The first work from the agency will launch later this year.

The hiring of a new agency comes as the Miami-based cruise line, which has a fleet of 11 ships sailing to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Mexican Riviera, appears to be trying to raise its profile ahead of a planned initial public offering of its stock.

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