ROYAL CARIBBEAN 'CREW' TOUTS HUGE NEW VOYAGER; MULTIMEDIA ADS PROMOTE OPTIONS ON SHIP CALLED ACTIVITY-INTENSE

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A motley crew of characters are on deck to promote Royal Caribbean International's newest addition to its fleet.

The nation's second-largest cruise line today kicks off a $5 million multimedia campaign to introduce Voyager of the Seas, a massive 3,100-passenger vessel touted as the most activity-intense cruise ship afloat.

Agency McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., has assembled a group of eight recurring characters -- a rock climber, shopper, bride and groom, scuba diver, golfer, basketball player and ice skater -- each representing an activity to be found onboard.

Voyager is a virtual floating city, complete with an ice-skating rink, rock-climbing wall, full-size basketball court, TV studio, theater, wedding chapel, nine-hole golf course and an upscale shopping promenade.

The ad campaign is just as diverse; it includes print, outdoor, interactive and even virtual-reality elements.

PRINT, NEWSPAPER ADS

Print ads appear in national publications such as People and USA Today, and in newspapers in nine major markets: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington.

The ads place the characters in an assortment of far-and-wide locales, including a redwood forest and a prehistoric desert. In each ad, the group stares off into the distance while the tagline above their heads gives the object of their attention: "In search of Voyager."

Print runs through Sept. 17, building up to an eight-page, fold-out insert in Time's Sept. 27 issue. The insert has a detailed cutaway of the ship and its features, with a new tagline, "The search is over."

McKinney Senior VP Chris Lloyd said that when choosing cruise lines, customers are most motivated by the quantity and quality of onboard features. Traditionally, cruise ship ads display glossy shots of those features, but that approach doesn't always resonate with consumers, he said. Royal Caribbean wanted a more personal touch.

In addition to print ads, life-size cardboard cut-outs of the Voyager characters will be placed on sidewalks. Royal Caribbean representatives will be stationed with the signs to answer questions about the ship's services. Outdoor boards, transit ads, wild postings and ads on sides of buildings also will be used, promoting the Voyager Web site (www.rccl-voyager.com).

VIRTUAL VOYAGER

Virtual Voyager, an 18-wheel truck hauling a mini-Imax theater, will visit events in 19 cities nationwide, leading consumers through a 3-D virtual-reality tour of the ship and its features, complete with seawater smells and manufactured wind.

"We hope that people will see this unusual cast and ask 'What's going on?' " said Mr. Lloyd. "We hope to build intrigue, make people scratch their heads and wonder what kind of unique vacation can they have with us."

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