MSC Cruises has evolved its branding to reflect its commitment to delivering the details that matter to its guests. Chief marketing Officer Riccardo Casalino tells Rebecca Gibson more
Not just any cruise
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2016 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Swiss-based operator MSC Cruises is in the midst of a €9 billion, 10-year expansion that will see it launch 11 next-generation smart cruise ships between 2017 and 2026. This will include three Seaside Class, two Meraviglia Class, two Meraviglia Plus Class, and four LNG-powered World Class ships.
In addition, the world’s largest privately owned and fourth-largest cruise company is involved in a US$200 million to build a private marine reserve in the Bahamas as part of its strategy to become a significant player in the Caribbean. Named Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the exclusive island will feature a traditional Bahamian village, restaurants and bars offering local specialities, a 2,000-seat open-air amphitheatre, shops, watersports facilities, beaches, a lagoon, a zip wire crossing the island, and a spa sanctuary for MSC Yacht Club guests.
To aid this planned growth and generate worldwide interest in its enhanced cruise offering, MSC Cruises aims to showcase the world-class facilities on the island resort and the new innovations onboard its newbuilds to as many consumers and travel agents as possible.
Developing a marketing campaign that not only captivates global audiences, but is also tailored to appeal to the varied tastes of consumers in different passenger markets requires meticulous planning. According to chief marketing officer Riccardo Casalino, MSC Cruises considers several factors when developing its national and international marketing campaigns.
“We start by assessing the industry landscape, then move on to studying our target groups and carrying out proper brand equity and positioning work, and eventually, we plan and execute the marketing programme,” he explains. “New digital technologies have deeply influenced the first three phases, while platforms such as social media have fundamentally reshaped how we execute our promotional campaigns for different passenger demographics and markets.”
In January 2015, MSC Cruises began a year-long global consumer research study to determine the success of its existing marketing campaigns, as well as loyal and prospective guests’ perceptions of its cruise offering and core brand qualities. The line commissioned research agencies TNS and IPSOS to carry out nearly 3,000 hours of interviews with consumers in MSC’s key markets, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and US. Insights from the interviews indicated that both loyal and prospective guests perceived the MSC cruise experience as ‘distinctly more elegant, professional and more reliable’ than the experiences offered by other cruise lines.
This January, MSC Cruises launched a new, €65 million global marketing and multimedia advertising campaign: ‘Not just any cruise’. Moving away from its prior emphasis on ‘The Mediterranean Way of Life’, the latest promotional campaign highlights what MSC considers as its ability to master the tiny details that create an exclusive cruise and holiday experience.
“We evolved our global brand positioning and created a new promotional and advertising campaign to showcase the many ways in which MSC Cruises truly is a master of the seas run by a family with 300 years of maritime experience,” says Casalino. “Our ‘Not just any cruise’ brand positioning is now even closer to how our passengers already perceive us: an elegant, competent cruise line offering total luxury to its guests.”
MSC Cruises kicked off its new international ‘Not just any cruise’ campaign with a series of three TV commercials in key European markets, including Germany, Italy, France and Spain. In total, the company pledged a €19 million investment in advertising the brand and its cruise experience in Germany, €15 million in Italy and €6 million in both France and Spain.
Created by Oscar-nominated British film director Daniel Barber, the international TV commercials are set to an exclusive soundtrack written by longstanding MSC partner and Italian composer Ennio Morricone. The three adverts – Drop, Note and Tomato – highlight the key elements that MSC Cruises believes differentiate its ships, onboard experience, itineraries and shore excursions from every other cruise brand. Footage in the clips show guests relaxing in luxurious accommodation, testing out the water slides and swimming pools, enjoying the food, onboard entertainment and other hospitality services.
Later this summer, MSC Cruises plans to air different TV commercials featuring the same ‘Not just any cruise’ tagline, but with specific messaging targeted towards guests in North America.
“MSC Cruises’ maritime skills and ability to offer hospitality at sea are unmatched, while our exclusive partnerships with multiple world-leading brands, such as Cirque du Soleil, LEGO, Samsung and Technogym, as well as our collaborations with various esteemed Michelin-starred chefs elevate the onboard experience,” says Casalino. “Our marketing campaign certainly shows guests worldwide why MSC Cruises offers the best possible cruise experience.”