The Launch of the Queen Mary 2
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

The Launch of the Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line’s $800-million Queen Mary 2 represents the largest and grandest passenger liner ever built, the first true ocean liner constructed in more than 30 years.

Paul Holmes

Cunard Line’s $800-million Queen Mary 2 represents the largest and grandest passenger liner ever built, the first true ocean liner constructed in more than 30 years. It was destined to redefine ocean travel and vacations at sea for the 21st century. A harmonious blend of tradition and innovative concepts of design, luxury, comfort, shipboard activities and lifestyle, Queen Mary 2 is a symbol of the revitalized Cunard Line’s commitment to a vibrant future for the cruise industry.

Most important, it reflected the company’s confidence in its own unique cruise product, one shaped by over 160 years of Cunard history during which time it played a vital role in defining luxury travel and technological innovation.

Based on its years of experience in launching blue-chip travel products around the world, M. Silver Associates was selected and charged with creating a stellar profile and legendary status for not only a ship but for a philosophy of luxury travel, memorable ocean voyages and commensurate standards, services and experiences.

The communications objective for Queen Mary 2 was to make the ship and her 2004 debut the biggest, most exciting and anticipated event of the year. It was also important to restore luster to the Cunard brand, which had somewhat diminished in the face of a proliferation of new lines and ships competing in the luxury category. By doing so, public relations would play a vital role in creating customer demand and success for QM2’s inaugural year and beyond.

Virtually every possible opportunity was seized in planning and implementing a comprehensive, multi-faceted public relations strategy embracing publicity, promotions, special events, marketing alliances and product and event tie-ins. Key elements included a high-profile PR campaigns for four main stages: 1) Pre-launch media buzz one year prior to ship’s debut, 2) Christening and maiden voyage from Southampton, England, 3) First arrival in U.S. mainland waters in Fort Lauderdale, and 4) Arrival in New York, focus attention on QM2’s “unique and first” attributes - elements not found on any other ship in the world.

Noteworthy results included multiple live broadcasts of The Today Show, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, and Entertainment Tonight. Broadcast coverage for the arrival in Fort Lauderdale included 1,106 hits resulting in 75,239,719 impressions. The New York City arrival totaled 1,798 hits and 173,825,945 impressions.

Major print coverage included features in such publications as: The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Vanity Fair, USA Today, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Town & Country Travel, InStyle, People, Cigar Aficionado, Boston Globe, Las Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle and many others.

Queen Mary 2 represented one of the international travel industry’s most exciting events in years.

For M. Silver Associates, this was as much a challenge as a unique opportunity. Expectations (the industry’s as well as the client’s) were extremely high and the agency knew that it had to educate and influence important audiences (including the media) of the truly extraordinary qualities of the ship far in advance of its launch and to again make a huge impact for her debut and inaugural season.

Even the most exciting ideas and products rarely sell themselves. The success of the Queen Mary 2 launch campaign ultimately can be attributed to extraordinary teamwork and cooperation between agency and client in identifying goals and key messages and then staying focused. Consideration must also be given to the in-depth knowledge of Cunard Line and the cruise industry on the part of agency team members, their willingness to go above and beyond what might have been expected to accomplish their goals, and their creativity in finding ways to appeal to a broad range of media. And it goes without question that this campaign could not have succeeded without Cunard Line’s willingness and commitment to put whatever resources were necessary into the campaign to make it a triumph.

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