Love Boat Lessons Part 2 – The More Things Change


In 1985 when we made our first custom video production for Princess Cruises, video was just beginning to come in to corporate use.  The standard medium in the then fledgling Cruise Industry was a 16mm film which would be shown at a “Cruise Night”. These were events organized by travel agents where thirty or forty potential travelers would watch two or three films from the various Cruise Lines and hopefully be persuaded to go on a cruise. So our first film was shot, edited and shown in 16mm film. To show how relatively new the video medium was in that day, when I asked Princess if they wanted to make some VHS copies of the film they asked me why!!
Princess Cruises 1985

The success of that first film was evidenced by the fact that Princess used it as their main sales and promotional piece for nearly 10 years! (They eventually saw the wisdom of video as a more exportable medium and had me make thousands of copies.) It also was the first of over 150 films and videos that we produced for Princess over the next 24 years.

Those years have seen sweeping changes beyond just the ascension of video as a recording and delivery medium. The dizzying rise of the Internet as a driving force behind the marketing, promotion and sales of cruises has caused a mad rush on the part of all the Cruise Lines to get their share.

But the Internet is just another delivery medium, like those original VHS tapes. Even in this Youtube, Twitter driven day, when it comes to content certain classic truths remain. Foremost is story. Every film or video has to have one to be any good. Second is that people are more interested in other people rather than things. Third is that, when you are dealing with visual media, you need to show what it is you are talking about. These may seem elementary, but you would be surprised how often they are violated.

When we produced “A World Apart” in 1985 we knew from talking to agents and potential passengers that the single biggest obstacle in convincing a person to take a cruise was a lack of data of what the experience would be about. This was in a day when not that many people had taken a cruise. So we set out to capture the experience.

A World Apart Cruise Director

We did this by filming various crew members from the Captain on down to waiters and room stewards and got them to tell us what they did. We then showed them going about their daily routines while we heard them describe what they enjoyed about their jobs. By showing actual crew members (somewhat handpicked of course) in actual cruise situations, as well as happy passengers and what they enjoyed about cruising, we were able to successfully convey the fun and adventure of an ocean cruise.

We also made the experience much more real to the viewer and dispelled some misgivings.

But that was then. How does this relate to today’s world of instant media gratification? Well, oddly enough, the more things change the more they stay the same. Princess Cruises recently moved from an old guard agency, Grey, to a virtual unknown boutique called Ignite. The reason was that Ignite deals almost exclusively with online advertising. And what did Ignite come up for their main marketing thrust?

Pretty much just what we had done with “A World Apart”! As you surf the web you might come across a pretty banner ad with a Princess Cruises Vessel sailing along in some beautiful far away sea. The ad says, “Click to see what it means to Escape Completely (Princess’ new tag line)”. When you do you are treated to an array of video snippets of passengers and crew, pretty much just like what we did in “A World Apart”. It happens quicker and the videos are shorter, to accommodate the Internet attention span, but the purpose and performances are exactly the same. The Internet is just a medium to convey information. The basics of what influences, entertains and moves people are still the same.

Compare Cruise Director Jim with the (more sophisticated but the same idea)  Princess Cruises Internet Campaign twenty four years later.


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