Carnival Corp Consolidates Global Media Business With Omnicom's PHD

Company Spent $115 Million on Media in Consolidation Markets, Including U.S. and U.K.

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The cruise ship Emerald Princess, operated by Carnival.
The cruise ship Emerald Princess, operated by Carnival. Credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Carnival Corporation is consolidating its media agency business in North America and the U.K. with Omnicom's PHD as the cruise line giant looks for better strategic alignment and media cost savings, the company said in a statement.

PHD, which has served as the incumbent agency for two of the company's 10 brands, including Carnival Cruise Line and Cunard Line brands in the U.S., will now add digital and traditional planning and buying in the U.S. and U.K. for Carnival Cruise Lines, Fathom, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises U.K. and Seabourn.

Previously, Carnival had used different shops to handle individual brands, such as Publicis Groupe's Optimedia for Princess Cruises.

"Bringing together our brands to work with a world class agency like PHD enables us to further enhance our digital and traditional media strategies to grow demand for cruising as the world's best vacation choice," said Josh Leibowitz, chief strategy officer for Carnival Corporation, in a statement.

The move is part of the company's effort to "consolidate its purchased media strategy development and execution across its 10 global cruise brands," and "help generate awareness and drive increased demand for cruising, while creating multi-million dollar savings in media costs," according to the statement. In 2015, Carnival Corporation's seven brands in the two regions accounted for $116 million in media spend, added the statement.

Carnival spent $68.7 million on U.S. measured media in 2015, according to Kantar Media.

The company also hired WPP's Mediacom for media and creative support in Australia, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Agencies mentioned declined to comment or didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

The consolidation follows a competitive reivew, the company said in the statement. However, in February, a spokesman told Ad Age that it was only an agency evaluation.

"We are simply looking at our agency support and costs across our 10 brands to see if there are any cross-brand opportunities to leverage our scale and coordinate more closely across each of our brands," the spokesman said at the time. He had added that while media was a focus, the company was looking at creative as well. It's not immediately clear whether this latest move affects Carnival's creative account, which is at Havas' Arnold.

The latest agency consolidation continues PHD's momentum, starting with the massive GSK win in 2015 and more recently Delta. Parent network Omnicom Media Group also recently won the bulk of the massive P&G account.

Carnival in 2015 bought its first Super Bowl ad as part of its first multi-brand marketing initiative. The spot incorporated all nine of its global brands for a TV, digital and social campaign, to attract more people to cruise vacations following a handful of crises years earlier that affected the entire industry.

The company's last media agency review in 2013 followed an incident in which one of its Costa ships crashed on the coast of Italy and killed 32 people. Following that incident was the company's notorious "poop cruise," in which an engine fire stranded the flagship Carnival line's Triumph ship off the coast of Alabama and left passengers with a limited supply of food, water and plumbing for days.

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