In spring of 2016, LDWW was called upon to navigate the uncharted waters of a historical voyage: managing one of the first PR campaigns operated on-the-ground inside Cuba.
Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand became the first U.S. cruise line since the Kennedy Administration to sail to Cuba. The journey began almost a year earlier when Carnival Corporation was approved by the U.S. government to be the first U.S. cruise company in 50 years to sail to Cuba. During the course of the 10 months leading up to the May 2016 inaugural voyage – and during a month-long crisis management period in April – LDWW helped Carnival Corporation and Fathom get a true sense of the hard work it takes to make history.
LDWW waded into a complex and emotionally charged communications environment. The politics, passion and pride inherent in hundreds of American travelers, including Cuban-born Americans and U.S. journalists, setting sail to the once forbidden shores was a delicate balance. Calls with the U.S. State Department were almost as common as those from The New York Times.
On top of mitigating all the crises, the team was moving full steam ahead with the media launch – inviting hundreds of journalists, and planning their itineraries for the voyage. Despite authorization and success in securing hundreds of journalists to sail to Cuba, the team was ordered to walk back all but 10 journalist invitations in an effort to improve revenue from the voyage. And then shortly after the “walk back,” the team was tasked with getting media back on the ship.
LDWW earned its footnote in the history books too. It had constructed the first on-the-ground media program operated by a U.S. PR firm in Cuba since the missile crisis of 1962.
The results for the inaugural voyage and nearly year-long Cuba campaign were off the charts; so much so that the team jokingly had a category for results called “ridiculous things that happened.”
The Fathom Cuba story was the biggest Carnival Corporation proactive news story on record with nearly 9,000 stories and 20 billion impressions in only a two-week period. In total since July 2015, the Carnival/Fathom “Cuba story” generated more than 25,000 news stories with nearly 55 BILLION media impressions in less than one year.