When all else fails, creativity always wins


A cruise-ship launch was saved by a low-cost publicity idea after a major hurricane ruined the planned gala.

US Olympic Rowing Team - New Your Daily News

The New York Daily News Sunday travel section shows the US Olympic Rowing Team escort the MV Royal Majesty to its home port.

When it comes to publicity, creative ideas will overcome near-impossible challenges. My colleague Beth Nelson, who now operates PPR Communications , dreamed up one of my all-time my favorites when we worked together in 1992.

That summer we launched the Royal Majesty cruise ship.  Although the liner’s home port was Miami, we introduced it in New York in July with gala events including a christening by its “godmother” Liza Minelli. A series of stops at ports down the Eastern Seaboard followed.

We still needed some buzz for the ship’s arrival into Miami in early September, but had played every card in the deck. And, we had another small problem. Hurricane Andrew clobbered South Florida two weeks before the arrival.

While watching the Summer Olympics on television, the rowing competition inspired Beth.  With South Florida managing a major catastrophe we could not get the traditional parade of boats and Coast Guard cutters to herald the ship into port.  Besides, no one would care if we did. She suggested inviting the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team to escort the ship into the Port of Miami for a photo-op.

The stunt only cost expenses for the oarsmen to visit Miami and it placed a bold exclamation point on the entire launch campaign. The front page photo (left) on the New York Daily News Sunday Travel section was one of many “fresh hits” we got for our happy client. A $2 million budget would not have generated more media than that creative picture.

Many business people and marketers hate to rely on creativity because it is so unpredictable. It is also indispensable, especially when all else fails.

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