No. 3 Norwegian Cruise Line Recasts Marketing Strategy

$100 Million Ad Effort Emphasizes 'Freestyle Cruising'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Norwegian Cruise Line, the No. 3 player in the U.S. cruise industry, is mounting its first national ad campaign in over a decade and increasing spending to move it closer to the category leaders.
Norwegian Cruise Line will heavily promote its lack of dress codes and fixed dining times as part of a new 'Freestyle Cruising.'
Norwegian Cruise Line will heavily promote its lack of dress codes and fixed dining times as part of a new 'Freestyle Cruising.'

'Freestyle Cruising'
At a press conference today, Norwegian rolled out a new brand identity that supports its "Freestyle Cruising" positioning and its focus on the relative lack of structure on its cruises. In contrast to its competitors, Norwegian has no dress codes or fixed dining times on its cruises.

While the company declined to disclose the spending on the national campaign, which breaks in major media Oct. 2, it did say its 2007 advertising and promotions budget will be about $100 million.

"Media spending will go up significantly," said Scott Rogers, senior VP-marketing and sales, who joined NCL in 2005 following a 13-year tenure at Procter & Gamble Co.

Media spending vs. rivals
Norwegian spent $29 million in measured media in 2004 and $32 million in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Rival Royal Caribbean spent $123 million and $116 million in those same time periods, while Carnival spent about $229 million in each of those years.

Norwegian has about an 11% market share, compared to Carnival's 49% and Royal Caribbean's 35%.

The new creative, from Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, will run on national TV, magazines and newspaper as well as online and -- in New York -- out of home. The work depicts the rigid schedules at competitors as yielding automaton-like cruisers who all move in lock-step.

Norwegian is battling not only the likes of Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but a consumer base that's not especially eager to hear about cruises, often perceived as geriatric entertainment. To combat that, the major players have been adding activities that cater to a younger lifestyle, things like rock-climbing and, in Royal Caribbean's case, a surfing machine.
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