Carnival Corporation has unveiled a joint marketing effort for its six cruise brands to be presented as the "World's Leading Cruise Lines."

The first activity, and a test to see how it works, is an eight-page insert produced jointly with VISA which was scheduled to appear in USA Today on October 18 presenting Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line and Windstar Cruises. The tagline on the cover reads: "The World's Leading Cruise Lines make it easy to find the cruise vacation that's just right for you."

"We have looked at creating a unique environment to deliver our message," said Rod McLeod, executive vice president at Carnival Corp., who has been assigned the task of finding synergies between the company's cruise brands since he came aboard in the summer of 1997.

"By working together we have created a unique and unobtrusive marketing vehicle," McLeod said, underlining that all the companies and their identities will remain autonomous.

Carnival will track the response for the insert, and if successful, more activities are in the planning stages, including a Public Television travel program which will focus exclusively on the ships of the six brands.

The USA Today insert cost about $1.5 million and is expected to reach 16 million households in 14 of the nation's major markets, with Carnival and Visa splitting the cost. Combined media spending for the six brands exceeds $100 million per year.


If the program continues, "The World's Leading Cruise Lines" also becomes in effect a sister to the Cruise Lines International Association. The six Carnival brands represent 45 percent of the North American cruise market, according to Bob Dickinson, president of Carnival Cruise Lines, and pay for the lion's share of CLIA's programs.

Dickinson also suggested that "The World's Leading Cruise Lines" had partially been created in response to the tardiness of launching industry-wide CLIA programs. "This vehicle cuts through all the levels of difficulties," Dickinson said. "The World's Leading Cruise Lines has a much more cohesive message to get across.

"We are six brands within one company compared to the 28 brands and competing companies of CLIA," Dickinson added.

Meanwhile, McLeod underscored that "one organization (The World's Leading Cruise Lines) does not preclude another (CLIA)."

Visa, which was supposed to be a sponsor of CLIA's generic campaign "You Haven't Lived Until You've Cruised," which coincidentally was launched just about this time last year, but dropped out, plays a major role in Carnival's program. "Visa has worked with us to create this program," said McLeod. "Without Visa this would not have happened."

Added Dickinson, "There are millions of Visa card holders in the United States and all six cruise brands can be booked with a Visa card."

(In January of 1997, when the CLIA campaign finally was announced after months in the planning stages, CLIA President Jim Godsman said about Visa that "a real live partner is easier to pick up if you have something to show them." It had been expected that Visa would be a co-sponsor for the campaign, which originally was budgeted at $10 million, but later scaled back to $3 million for 1997 and $5 million for 1998, and has now been extended through 1999 with another $5 million.)

Future activities would most likely be funded by the six brands and not involve Carnival Corporation, McLeod explained, who said the program came out of a meeting last January.

He also emphasized that the new program will not replace the individual marketing of the six brands. "This is a no-brainer," added Dickinson. "You do not need to validate this scientifically," he added in response to a question of whether any research supported the program, "unless you are horribly insecure."

In the USA Today insert, each brand has its own page with copy describing the product along with one of the line's newspaper ads. The back cover shows a chart of all the destinations served by the six brands. Visa cardholders are offered exclusive discounts and on-board credits ranging from $50 to $1,000 per cabin depending on the length of cruise and cruise line when booked with a Visa card.

There is also a website with links to the various brands.