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Setting Sail at Last: Performance of Cruise Ships Brands’ Return to Advertising

November 10, 2021

With travel bans lifting and the rush of the Holidays fast approaching, consumers across the country are breaking out their carry-ons and embarking on some long overdue vacation time. Cruise lines, one of the hardest-hit industries impacted by the pandemic, are staging a comeback as travelers begin to eagerly book passages on their favorite cruise ships and make up for lost time during the height of the pandemic.

According to our recent Emotional Need States Pulse Report, certain need states have been “activated” by the unique circumstances of COVID, which has shifted the overall landscape of decision-making for consumers. One of these new mentalities, dubbed “COVID Revenge,” represents the consumers who have a new feeling of freedom and the desire to reward themselves for the challenges suffered during COVID. This group is likely responsible for many post-COVID vacation bookings, who feel they need to get out, find new experiences & adventures in the world, and take back control of their lives.

Cruise ship companies have also been eager to get back out onto the open seas, and many have been revamping their advertising to urge people back on board. Using our industry-leading in-market measurement platform Phoenix Brand Effect, we took a look at some of the recent advertising of cruise ship brands to see which are making consumers set sail and which are getting left at port.

Disney Cruise Lines focused on their legacy of magic for their ad, “Let’s Dream,” which came in at the number one spot in our breakdown. Their focus on family-friendly vacations and highlighting many of their beloved characters, which are highly recognizable, gave this ad knockout branding which brought up their entire Brand Memorability score.

Royal Caribbean’s montage-style ad “Rise to the Vacation” focused on their (many) on-board amenities and options for excursions, set to catchy music aimed to get people excited. The on-screen copy also spoke to the “COVID Revenge” viewers by acknowledging that “it’s about time” to get back out and enjoy a vacation; it was a likely factor in the ad’s top Ad Memorability score of the group.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Ready to Break Free” blends its excursions and ship amenities, and the Queen song that the ad is set to likely helped them to deliver above-average recall. Viewers had more of a challenge in terms of Brand Linkage compared to other brands.

Viking Cruises’ “Be Curious” ad is set to a slightly different tune than the other ads in the category, telling the story of Viking’s Chairman and the values he grew up with and bring to the spirit of his cruise line. While the ad was less memorable than the others, it had some of the strongest Brand Linkage (second only to Disney Cruises), demonstrating the powerful impact of the global visuals and accented voiceover.

For additional insights and information into the why’s behind the performance of these ads, or for more information on the shifting need states of consumers, drop us a line!

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