Renaissance Cruises docks at Grey

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Renaissance Cruises' four-month journey to find an agency ended at Grey Global Group, where its $55 million account will be handled by Grey Direct and sibling unit Ericsson Fina, both New York.

Grey Direct takes lead agency status, handling direct mail, e-marketing and media. Ericsson Fina, which specializes in beauty and fashion advertising, will contribute creative for the TV and print component of the effort.

The shops' first ad is slated to break Jan. 1 -- the crest of the industry's "wave season," or heaviest booking period. Print ads will appear in travel trades, major newspapers and consumer publications including Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. TV ads will run on network and cable outlets.

Renaissance's past advertising was mainly handled in-house, although some minor projects that billed less than $1 million were handled by outside agencies.

In 1998, Renaissance moved away from selling through travel agents but this summer returned to them as primary sales agents. For direct-mail campaigns, the cruise line plans to tap travel agents' client lists.

The new agency appointments come as Renaissance rapidly expands its fleet of midsize premium cruise ships. Renaissance, the world's No. 5 cruise line, has nine vessels in service.

Rather than creating unique decor and dining facilities for each of its ships, as many lines do, Renaissance is building 684-passenger vessels as cookie-cutter copies. Differentiation is found in deployment, which will factor into Grey's campaign for the line.

"They really are a different kind of cruise company," said Alice Ericsson, president of Ericsson Fina. "They don't go to the Caribbean, and they don't have Kathie Lee dancing around with a lot of kids or frosty drinks. It's all about the locations."


Renaissance ships cruise to the Greek islands, Mediterranean, northern Europe, the South Pacific, Asia, South America and Australia.

Grey and Ericsson had just more than two weeks to prepare their pitch, though coincidentally several members of the Ericsson group had recently sailed on a Renaissance ship "and had a great time," Ms. Ericsson said.

"They wanted a company that could help them strengthen their relationship with the trade community, build profits and build a brand. I think we demonstrated the ability to accomplish all three of the objectives," said Lawrence Kimmel, chairman-CEO of Grey Direct.

Contributing: Cara Beardi.

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