In early 2016, Carnival Cruise Line announced its newest ship, Carnival Vista, would arrive in the US smack dab in the middle of a contentious election season. With little actual news to tout in the 11 months between ship announcement and arrival, we needed to build awareness and excitement leading up to the ship’s launch. We took aim at growing the brand’s reputation as America’s Cruise Line by developing an ownable platform that would be true to the brand, create emotional resonance with loyal and new guests, and give us multiple consumer touchpoints for exposure in priority markets over a sustained period.
Proprietary research showed us that more military families sail with Carnival than any other brand, and that country music indexes strongly with their guests. What’s more American than those two things? Enter Carnival Cruise Line’s “Honor. Family. Fun.” campaign that teamed the brand with Operation Homefront, which provides support to military families in need, and country music superstar and military supporter, Carrie Underwood, who was embarking on a new music tour around the US, visiting many of Carnival’s priority markets.
We kicked off the partnership at a press conference with Carrie. To raise funds for Operation Homefront, we designed branded commemorative dog tags that were sold at concert stops and across the entire Carnival fleet. Carrie met with military families at tour stops, surprising each with an invitation to join her for an exclusive performance aboard Carnival Vista when it arrived in New York City. The campaign raised $500,000 for Operation Homefront, boosted organic web searches for Carnival by 40% and YOY online discussions about the brand by nearly 500%. The program generated over 3 billion national and local market media impressions and led to a 6% increase in YOY cruise bookings.