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Royal Caribbean tries to get millennials to change their Thanksgiving plans with online contest

Cruise line operator Royal Caribbean has launched an unorthodox campaign to entice millennials to hop on a cruise this Thanksgiving with an online contest celebrating ?Friendsgiving.?

The contest, a part of the Ultimate Friendsgiving celebration, allowed users to enter online through digital media brand Thrillist?s Web site for a chance at one of several pairs of tickets to the event on November 10-12. The campaign is also hosting a social media component on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. 

?Is it too late to convince millennials to change Thanksgiving plans to take a cruise?? said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT, New York. I think Royal Caribbean's timing is on point here; since it's just a 2 day cruise, for many people it will fit into whatever holiday time they already have allotted.  

Early November is prime time for making Thanksgiving plans? whether they involve home, friends and family, or something totally different,? he said. ?No question there are a good number of millennials who would love a good excuse to avoid the family get-together, and Royal Caribbean is giving them one, in an all-inclusive package.  

?Is social media enough to compel people to commit to a ?friendsgiving? cruise?  Well, frankly, yes it can be: Royal Caribbean does a good job on social, particularly Instagram, where it shows a constant stream of adventures and fun being had by attractive young people.  Sure, if you're a jaded millennial who would never take a cruise, it's not going to convince you, but for those who are least considering a cruise, Royal Caribbean's social content most definitely helps convert.?

A supposedly fun thing
The Friendsgiving celebration will take place on board Royal Caribbean?s newest ship, Harmony of the Seas. In addition to custom Friendsgiving menus and cocktails, guests can also slide down the 10-story Ultimate Abyss, surf on the Flowrider and rock climb.

Participating friends can also whet their appetites for ingratiatory dance pop by attending a live performance from DNCE, fresh off of a Best New Artist win at the prestigious MTV Video Music Awards. 

?The assumption that there's zero overlap between DNCE fans and potential cruise takers is false; while millennials make up less than 10% of cruisegoers, that slice is very much worth targeting.? Mr. McNally said. ?Plus, it's crucial forward thinking positioning for the cruise industry in general. 
?Cruises have tried a huge number of gimmicky ways in recent years to attract younger audiences, and while there have been some complete fails, it's a tactic that is likely going to prove valuable in the long term.  There's no reason cruises can't capitalize on the popularity of destination festivals, and teaming up with groups like DNCE helps them enter that space.?

Harmony of the Seas
Landlubbers are encouraged to experience the Ultimate Friendsgiving experience through Royal Caribbean?s Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat channels, where it will be sharing content related to the promotion. They can also tune in live via the Thrillist Facebook page on November 11.

?This campaign is much more about brand positioning than a hard sale,? Mr. McNally said. ?The cruise ship marketing cliché revolves around value: ?5 nights, $499, plus all you can eat buffet!?

?This campaign doesn't focus on price but on experience and vibe, which is the way Royal Caribbean needs to communicate with this new demographic. Yes, a compelling value is important, and millennials are cost-conscious, but the first hurdle is convincing them that the Harmony of the Seas party is where they absolutely want to be, and once that's done, the conversion is relatively straightforward.?