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NCL Creates New Freestyle Identity
NCL Corporation Ltd. last week introduced the travel press to a new, all-encompassing brand identity created to articulate its Freestyle Cruising concept.

The advertising and promotion campaign for both consumers and travel agents, created by the agency GSD&M, Austin, TX, is NCL’s first such campaign in 10 years. It will cost an estimated $100 million over the next year, according to Andy Stuart, executive vice president of marketing, sales and passenger services for NCL Corp.

“With NCL set to have by far the youngest fleet in the industry by 2010, with all of our new ships purpose-built for Freestyle Cruising and deployed in all major cruise destinations, and our NCL America fleet now fully in place, the time is right to build large-scale consumer awareness through a major brand identity,” said Stuart.

The new brand campaign features a light-hearted tone and colorful graphics. An example of how the brand is characterized: a graphic treatment features a white fish swimming against the direction of a school of blue fish, depicting the type of guest that NCL is looking to attract — one who is a “non-conformist.”

Stuart said that NCL’s research shows that the type of people who are attracted to Freestyle Cruising see themselves as individuals in a world in which increasingly everyone else is doing what they are told and accepting what is offered.

Freestyle Cruising is basically characterized by no fixed dining times, no formal dress codes, relaxed disembarkation, up to 10 different restaurants and a variety of lounges, bars, theatres and other entertainment and activity options. NCL’s campaign aims to contrast Freestyle to “traditional” cruising.

Travel agents and consumers will get their first look at the new brand identity when it debuts on Oct. 2 in a variety of media and online at the company’s completely new Web site,

New Look Web Site
The site has been developed with a new look, containing new features and enhanced content and functionality. New travel agencies can register online and begin booking NCL immediately.

Agents will also have easy access to Hot Deals and reduced rate sailings and can order NCL marketing collateral online 24 hours a day. There will also be a listing of trade shows and ongoing education.

The marketing plan also includes:
• Spots on a variety of both national network and cable television channels, including network morning and prime time shows. The two 30-second and a range of 15-second spots contrasts, in a humorous way, the regimentation of a traditional cruise with the relaxing ambiance of Freestyle cruising;

• Eight different spreads in trade publications, including Travel Trade, Cruise Trade and Home Based Trade, plus 26 insertions in national consumer magazines, including Bon Appetit and the New Yorker;

• Three animated online banner ads on more than 25 sites, including high read portals (Yahoo, AOL and MSN), niche travel sites (Trip Advisor, etc.), comparison shopping/search sites (Yahoo! Search, Hotwire and Lowestfare) and New York sites (, The ads will highlight NCL’s New York City departures and offer online games related to Freestyle Cruising;

• NCL will sponsor traffic and weather updates on key AM and FM radio stations in the New York metropolitan region;

• “Out-of-home” elements specifically for the New York area will include commuter rail posters and messaging on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square;

• All NCL ports will be outfitted by the end of the year with signage that reflects the new brand. Port consultants will wear ties and scarves that feature the fish graphic;

• All onboard and in-cabin signage — from the cabin keys and welcome aboard packets to comment cards and restaurant reservation cards — will reflect the new brand, as will NCL’s Latitudes frequent cruiser program and its direct mail and E-mail marketing to both consumers and trade;

• Approximately 15,000 travel agents nationwide will receive a new NCL brand direct mail piece in the form of a yellow box. The outside of the mailer depicts traditional cruising and, once opened, contrasts that with Freestyle Cruising. The mailer includes a clock with a white fish on one of the clock hands going in the opposite direction from the blue fish that represent the clock numbers.

“We believe bringing the brand to life in one unified voice across everything we do will help NCL and our travel partners expand the cruising population,” said Scott Rogers, NCL’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“Our travel partners have done a great job helping educate their clients on the benefits of Freestyle Cruising and selling NCL cruises, and now we are ready to bring the story to everyone, driving more guests into their offices,” he added.

Rogers noted that the all-encompassing brand identity “truly illustrates how we are different from other cruise lines and seeks to create demand not only among those who have cruised before, but also with non-cruisers who are accustomed to more conventional, land-based vacations.”

Date: 3-10-2006 (d-m-j)Email us your reaction

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