Norwegian Cruise Line Hires Omnicom Shops

BBDO, OMD replace The Martin Agency

Norwegian Cruise Line has a new agency lineup, with BBDO, Atlanta, as the company's new creative lead, and OMD, Midwest, planning and buying media.

The creative assignment spans traditional and digital ads and represents about $5 million in revenue. NCL's media spending totaled $33 million last year, down from about $45 million in 2013, according to Kantar Media.

The Omnicom Group shops replace The Martin Agency, which has worked with NCL since 2011.

The selections came after a review, in which Martin did not participate. The process began with 14 agencies and came down to four finalists, including BBDO. The other three contenders were not disclosed.

The agency switch follows NCL's acquisition in November of Prestige Cruises International, the parent of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which combines one of the industry's largest mass-market lines with two upscale cruise brands. As a result, the fast-growing company brought in a new CEO, Frank Del Rio, the co-founder of Oceania and CEO of Prestige. Two months later, Andy Stuart, evp, sales at NCL, was named president and COO.

"The change in leadership has really crystalized a more aggressive growth strategy," said Meg Lee, chief marketing officer at NCL. "We want to grow our business internationally as we almost double our capacity in the next few years. Norwegian Cruise Line and the cruise industry are on an uptick and we are looking to capitalize on this business momentum."

Lee, who spent eight years at NCL in various marketing and advertising roles, is also part of that shift and was named to her current role in March. Rounding out the new executive team behind the review is Harry Sommer, who was promoted to evp, international business in May.

Lee cited BBDO and OMD's track record with high-involvement brands as a deciding factor in the search process.The agencies are being asked to drive NCL's global expansion and sell consumers on the cruise line's "Freestyle Cruising" concept, which offers guests more leisure options and freedom in their schedules by forgoing set meal times and seating requirements and eliminating a requirement for formal mealtime attire. The first work from BBDO is expected to debut in January.