Princess Cruises recently abandoned its ''Where I Belong" marketing campaign with a new slogan designed to remind passengers of just how much they need to escape from the daily grind, according to Jan Swartz, senior vice president of sales and customer service.
"Escape Completely" will convey the message that Princess is the way to plan that escape, Swartz said.
In the ads, large photos of experiences onboard a Princess vessel can be seen along with a small contrasting image of spilled coffee, a no parking sign and a rat running on a spinning wheel.
"These are symbolic of things passengers will be leaving at home on their cruise," Swartz explained.
Swartz said that while ''Where I Belong" helped establish choice as a key part of Princess' product option, "we wanted to evolve the messaging and stay current."
"Everyone has something to escape from," she underlined. "It has a universal feel."
Swartz pointed out that while the Love Boat associations will always be with Princess, "Escape Completely" will broaden that appeal to all vacationers - making those that haven't cruised consider one.
"The Love Boat was marketed specifically to people that knew what a cruise was about," she said. In order too seek out the most effective branding campaign, extensive research was conducted in all stages of cruising, Swartz explained.
"We examined those considering a cruise, experienced cruisers and first-time cruisers," she said. "We interacted with them while they were on the ship, post-cruise and in the pre-booking stage, and found that what people love so much about cruising is wanting to escape."
Several travel agents queried by Cruise Industry News had very positive reactions to Princess' new slogan.
Alfred Hernandez, vice president and general manager of Destination Cruise Center, in Miami, thought the previous "Where I Belong" campaign was just too vague. "'Escape Completely' is actually much better," Hernandez said. "I think it will attract many first-time cruisers and a lot of younger clientele," he added.
Pauline Power, director of sales and marketing at Pisa Brothers, a travel agency in New York City, has been selling cruises for more than 25 years, and noted that while "Escape Completely" is stronger than "Where I Belong," the fact that Princess "doesn't stick to a script" could be a negative.
"Because Princess continues to change their image, the line doesn't give anything a chance to stay in people's minds," Power explained.
"They should return to the Love Boat. It was a campaign that seemed to work best," she continued. "Actually what Princess should really do is 'Escape Completely on the Love Boat,"' Power said.
Aida Vincelli, vice president of The Cruise Proffesionals, in Ontario, said that to her, "Where I Belong" didn't mean anything.
"It didn't entice cruisers," Vincelli underscored, "or more importantly, those thinking about taking a cruise."
She pointed out that "Escape Completely" will probably work better because it conveys an action - as opposed to "belonging" which is more passive.
As far as the Love Boat branding, Vincelli admits that it was great for the time, but it put cruising for Princess "strictly in a romantic light - as opposed to appealing to more than just couples - singles, children, families and the like."
Added Vincelli: "They don't even have the Pacific Princess anymore. And even if they did, it's so much smaller than their ships today, the branding message would be deceiving."
Pat Matthews, owner of Air & Sea Travel, in Oklahoma City, has been cruising for nearly 40 years. She pointed out that while "Escape" is "rather catchy," ultimately, it's the product that truly does the selling. "You have to back-up what it is you are promoting," Matthews said, noting that word of mouth tends to sell more cruises than any type of marketing campaign.
"There is no substitute for being there and actually going through the experience," she continued.
Matthews explained that customer reviews of cruise lines - testimonies of real people in branding campaigns would be a great thing.
"The honesty would be undeniable, and I'm sure 1t would result in greater sales," she said.