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I really don’t know what to make of this one.

Carnival Corporation have launched a new campaign to promote cruising in general, and therefore across all nine of their brands: Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess, Cunard, Seaboard, Aida, Costa, P&O (UK), and P&O Australia. On the one hand that’s laudable, but on the other hand I can’t help wondering how much commonality there is in the on-board experience of, say, CCL and Holland America; or P&O and Aida; or Costa and… well, anything except MSC which isn’t a Carnival company.

I’m also confused because it’s being termed a ‘National’ marketing initiative, and I have a feeling that the relevant nation is actually the USA. If so, I’m wondering how a campaign aimed at Americans can include the non-US lines – Aida, Costa, and the two P&O lines.

But never mind. There are several new sites that have been set up to explain it all. The main lead-in site is this one, from where you can fan out to several other sites via clicks. One of them (‘Discover your Cruise-a-nality’) tries to identify suitable cruise lines for you based on the answers you give to some questions. I tried the quiz twice and never managed to get P&O as a principal offer! The other lays out some possible marketing initiatives, in the form of ‘pitches’ of different advert concepts, and you can vote for the one you preferred. That’s the ‘Take the marketing challenge’ option. Some of the ‘pitches’ are quite fun and this bit worked quite well, I thought. The third option from the front page just takes you a screen from which you can explore some details of the various cruise lines.

Overall, I’m not convinced. I’ve seen enough arguments between the proponents of different P&O ships (e.g. Adonia vs. Ventura) to doubt that different lines can be seen to offer similar experiences, other than in the most basic way (you’re on a ship, at sea). Still, good marks to Carnival Corp for trying to do something across the brands; I just don’t think they’ve got it right yet.

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