Celebrity Cruises' TV Campaign Delayed

Is Latest Move More Bad News for Element 79?

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Amid the stock market tumble and economic uncertainty over the proposed government bailout of the financial industry, Celebrity Cruises has postponed shooting of a suite of planned TV ads, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Celebrity, the upscale imprint of the Royal Caribbean cruise line, is said to be pondering whether its messaging, which uses the "Starring you" tagline to focus on the pampering, indulgent treatment it offers guests, is right for the economically challenged times.

It isn't known exactly what alternate tack the client is considering, but several executives speculated that a pitch emphasizing the value of a cruise relative to other getaways could be a consideration.

Element 79 increasingly isolated
The cutbacks are an unwelcome development at Celebrity's agency, Element 79, Chicago, which was left reeling by the loss of PepsiCo accounts Gatorade, Propel, Tropicana and Quaker earlier this year.

There are no indications, however, that Element 79, part of Omnicom Group, is on shaky ground with Celebrity, which joined the agency's roster early last year after parting with Arnold Worldwide. Element 79 CEO Brian Williams referred calls for comment to the client.

A Celebrity spokeswoman said that she had no knowledge of whether the shoot was postponed, but said the cruise line has no plans to cut back its current advertising.

Parent Royal Caribbean early this year cut 400 jobs after its financials were negatively affected by soaring fuel costs, which have hurt the entire industry. Still, Nick Verrastro, editor of Travel Trade magazine, said the cruising business has proved to be surprisingly resilient in the wake of the economic downturn thus far. "This business is not in free fall, and surprisingly so," he said. "The agents we talk to haven't seen any real impact on their billings yet."
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