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How Carnival Cruises Uses Marketing Inspired By Seinfeld

IMB_Seinfeld What made Seinfeld one of the best television shows ever? A big part of it was his ability to based an entire episode on an everyday observation.  Over the run of the show, this method gave viewers such memorable moments as double dipping (taking a bite and then redipping the chip into the dip) and Festivus (a made up holiday for the non-religious to celebrate during the “holiday season”). Seinfeld stood out because every episode expanded on some quirky truth about life we already knew but never thought about.

How effective could your marketing message be if you managed to relate it to an observation like those on Seinfeld?  There was a perfect example I saw on television last week for an unlikely brand.  The ad featured a guy in a red, white and blue sweatsuit sniffing various objects happily.  It starts with obscure things like carpets and curtains – and eventually you get the sense that he’s on a cruise ship when he looks over the side and sniffs the uniform of the Captain.  At the very end, he utters just one line – “mmmm … new ship smell.” And you see the logo of Carnival Cruise Lines.

IMB_CarnivalNewShipSmell How many other cruise lines could have run the same ad?  Probably any one. Most of them have some new ships.  But this ad delivers a powerful message based on a truth that we all intuitively know (that new car smell).  The message is simple: we have ships so new they still smell new.  And if you’re going cruising, of course you want a new ship.You can see the full ad below.  After you watch it, think about what quirky truth your customers all know that you could focus your marketing on.  Sometimes you might find your best marketing idea inspired by a show about nothing.

4 thoughts on “How Carnival Cruises Uses Marketing Inspired By Seinfeld”

  1. Certainly gets the point across that Carnival ships are in better shape. I wonder if their oldest ships can meet the promise though. Set up for disappointment if you don’t get the new ship?

  2. Scent is a powerful trigger. Car companies understand this and purposely manufacture that distinctive ‘new’ smell and pump it into vehicles. Attaboy to the folks at Arnold for playing off that strong sensory association in a clever way. New is a great differentiator.

  3. This is a great lesson in ‘less is more.’ There are no reaction shots until the end, and no set-up shots. We get right to the important stuff without fooling around. Often, people who make their own video tend to leave way too much in, which makes their video harder to watch because we’re waiting, impatiently, for the good stuff while they’re making us watch stuff that’s peripheral to the message.

    While this is a commercial and very short, and the video you’re making may well be longer & more complex, the lesson is sound. Try cutting to the bone and see if that doesn’t hone your message and make your video better. You can always put stuff you’ve cut back in. But it’s a mistake to start by assuming that because you shot it, you need to keep it.


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A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

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