Norwegian Cruise Lines' $50 Million Account in Play

Marketer Said to Be Looking for Top-Notch Broadcast Experience; Incumbent Is GSD&M Idea City

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NEW YORK ( -- Norwegian Cruise Lines is looking for new creative and media ideas on its nearly $50 million advertising account, which for the past five years has been handled by Omnicom Group's GSD&M Idea City, according to people familiar with the matter.

The pitch, which was launched this week, is being led by Pile & Co., Boston, which could not be immediately reached for comment. The Miami-based cruise line, which has a fleet of 11 ships sailing to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Mexican Riviera, is understood to be reaching out to a handful of shops that work with blue-chip brands and have top-notch broadcast experience.

Norwegian Cruise, part-owned by Leon Black's Apollo Management, appears to be making moves to raise its profile ahead of a planned initial public offering of its stock. The cruise line's CEO, Kevin Sheehan, even recently starred in the hit reality show "Undercover Boss."

A Norwegian Cruise spokeswoman confirmed the marketer is evaluating agencies but did not elaborate. Representatives for Austin-based Idea City, which is expected to defend, declined to comment on the pitch.

According to Kantar Media, Norwegian Cruise spent about $50 million in 2009 on domestic measured media, and based on figures for the period between January and October 2010, has kept advertising spending steady.

For Idea City, the review means the potential exit of yet another account, at a time when it has no chief creative officer. Earlier this week, it announced that Chief Creative Officer Mike Wilson has left after a brief tenure. The shop parted ways with two large accounts in the back half of 2010, BMW's global creative and MasterCard's media, though it added a small one in Pulte Homes.

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