A “Standing Ovation” for Celebrity’s New “Far Away” TV Spot

Celebrity Cruises launches new global campaign, "Sail Without Borders."
Celebrity Cruises launches new global campaign titled “Sail Without Borders.”

The first e-mail that Celebrity Cruises’ president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo read this morning was from a travel agent. It read, “If you could see me now, you would see a man, person, travel executive and American giving you a standing ovation.” That was in reaction to his viewing of the cruise line’s new TV spot “Far Away,” a 30-second commercial that will air nationally this evening after the first televised 2016 Presidential Debate. The video will be the first creative element of Celebrity’s new global campaign, “Sail Beyond Borders.”

“That [reaction] is exactly what I hope comes out of this [global campaign],” says Lutoff-Perlo. “This is exactly the intention. It wasn’t a right, left, Democratic, Republican [viewpoint]; it was a travel agent executive and an American who believes that experiencing diversity, and other cultures and other people is a way to enrich our lives. That is the spirit and the intent behind the spot. I couldn’t have said it better. I am going to drop the mike with this e-mail,” she says lightheartedly.

Celebrity Cruises travels to more than 280 cities around the world and is home to a crew representing more than 50 different cultures, and the ad plays this up by taking viewers on a journey that showcases iconic but disparate destinations from around the world. It visually blends both the places and the people of the destinations. Moreover, the spot is absent of any ship, and focuses less on what Celebrity does and more on what the brand believes. At the core of this belief is “opening new cultures and new places to our guests,” says Lutoff-Perlo.

“You get to a point when you’ve been in the industry for as long as I have,” says Lutoff-Perlo, “and when you’ve seen all the advertising for this industry…I got to a place where I said, ‘what am I going to talk about that is meaningful, that gives what we do more purpose beyond cruise costs, and how many free things I’m giving away if you book Celebrity,’” and so I thought it was a perfect opportunity in our industry to take a different spin on this because what we do is magical, and it’s time we started talking about that, and getting people to raise their hand to cruise specifically, and on Celebrity specifically, and continue to experience the world. That is really what our intention is with this spot.”

Many who have viewed the soon-to-air TV spot see a political slant—the first words heard in the ad are, “Far from the talk of building walls, far from the threats of keeping people out…”—but Lutoff-Perlo stresses that the message is far more than that, although the timing of the “Sail Beyond Borders” launch is purposeful. “I understand the climate we are in; it’s very unfortunate,” she says, but the point is, “We are all in this business together, and we all need people to experience the world, and that is really what the intention of this spot is. People are going to draw their own conclusions. I can’t control what people think. I can only state my position; I can only state Celebrity’s position. I can only tell you what the intention of the ad was.”

And for Lutoff-Perlo experiencing the world’s diversity—the driving message behind the TV spot and the campaign—“makes us more tolerant. It gives us a broader view. It makes us more understanding. We are citizens of the world. We are Americans, but we live on a planet with seven billion people and we have to celebrate that. That is cause for celebration every day.”

The TV ads will run on ABC and CNN, and full-page color print ads will run in five newspapers and in one magazine (Architectural Digest).

Lutoff-Perlo has penned a blog on Medium.com that provides more insight into her passion for “sailing beyond borders.” Click here to read the blog.