Saturday, 9 January 2010

Designed For Us?

Celebrity Cruises have launched their latest branding exercise worldwide, promising a $200million makeover for their Millennium-class vessels in the style of their highly-successful Solstice-class, and allying it with a new marketing message.

'Designed for you' is the slogan, which "pairs Celebrity's commitment to stunningly-designed ships and innovative onboard experiences with its commitment to impeccable guest service," and it apparently concludes a six-month search "to more deeply understand the needs of discerning cruisers."

Now, putting aside the probable likelihood that discerning cruisers are really only looking for a six-star experience at four-star prices, it is a bold step by Royal Caribbean's supposedly more upmarket brand (one which the Chandris family were creating in a happily unique style before selling out to the big boys).

First of all, in real terms it involves a significant outlay in upgrading the four older ships (Celebrity Millennium, Infinity, Summit and Constellation), which were hardly what anyone would call 'tatty' in the first place, being barely 10 years old. The commitment to 'Solstice-ise' the quartet includes adding:

Tuscan Grille, the Napa-Valley-meets-Italian-steakhouse venue

Bistro on Five, the highly-successful creperie

The signature ice-topped Martini Bar, with its top-tier vodka selection

A replacement for the former Cova Cafe, the Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria

A new Wine Bar that allows guests to select and serve the wines of their choice by the glass

More luxurious suites, designed to compare with modern European hotels, featuring all-new furniture, flatscreen TVs, upholstery, bedding and carpeting

Restyled standard cabins, again including the new carpeting, TVs, upholstery and bedding.

And new decor, carpeting and upholstery in every public venue, from the Celebrity Theater to Seaside Grill.

It is an abitious plan of upgrading, on top of the already near-$4billion investment in the five Solstice-class vessels, and it suggests - on top of the recent rebranding of boutique premium line Azamara Club Cruises - that Royal Caribbean intend to go aggressively after the big-ship premium market in 2010.

The Millennium-class upgrades will begin in April this year and continue through 2012. Meanwhile, the message to the general public will come across in a new Advertising campaign, with dramatic, distinctive images, a modern, contemporary graphic treatment, a copy voice promoting the brand's differentiating elements, and the 'Designed for You' tagline.

Marking a first for Celebrity, a hip new video shot on Celebrity Solstice to capture the essence of the Celebrity cruise experience will run on multiple travel, video, social, lifestyle and news sites. Print ads will appear in trade and consumer magazines and major daily newspapers across North America.

It all adds up to a fairly serious mainstream campaign to make the brand better recognised. And it's all designed for us!