Turning an “Ordinary” Event into Front Page News for MSC Cruises

As Miami is the home base for so many cruise ships sailing to the Caribbean and Mexico, the sight of big white cruise ships sailing into PortMiami barely prompts a yawn from the city’s residents.  Even the debut of new cruise ships are a dime a dozen in that port, which presents a challenge when attracting the desensitized media:  there’s not much they haven’t seen when it comes to cruise ship launches.  So when MSC Cruises decided to reposition its ship MSC Divina to be based in Miami year-round, the prospects for securing show-stopping local coverage were slim.  Not only was Divina NOT a new ship, but the European-based brand itself had limited awareness in the city, which has long been dominated by North American cruise companies.  To cut through this clutter and score high-profile media coverage, our news hook had to be quirky and set itself apart from the traditional cruise ship launch model of celebrities, red carpet events, and announcements of the newest onboard “toys.”

Leveraging MSC’s existing partnership with the chic Italian carmaker FIAT®, we collaborated with MSC, FIAT, and PortMiami to eschew the traditional tugboat-and-fireboat escort of a ship into its home port for the first time.  Instead, a fleet of instantly-recognizable FIAT 500’s would “drive” out onto the water as the official escorts for Divina, creating an arresting visual that would turn the heads of even the most desensitized residents of Miami, as well as a must-have media photo opportunity.  OK, so maybe they were actually personal watercraft overlaid with a FIAT 500 car body, but still…they did the trick.  And we had all the right photographers in place to capture the hero shots.

Hundreds of print, broadcast, and online stories resulted from this dramatic arrival.  In addition to the four featured above, all the South Florida broadcast news stations covered the event extensively, and significant stories appeared in a diverse range of media from Travel + Leisure to the Toronto Sun to Travel Agent and more.

Putting it in perspective…this was a simple ship repositioning, transformed into a national news story.