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Hospitality In-house Brand Strategy

Norwegian Cruise Line establishes in-house agency Rebel Fish Creative Group

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By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

January 31, 2023 | 5 min read

The cruise company adds to a surge in in-housing seen in recent years.

Norwegian Cruise Line ship

In-house creatives supported the debut of NCL’s new premier class, Norwegian Prima, last year / Norwegian Cruise Line

American cruise company Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced that it has founded its own in-house creative agency. Dubbed Rebel Fish Creative Group, the team will lead all of the brand’s strategic creative marketing efforts.

The team, which consists of 50 creatives, producers, project managers and account representatives, will work with a portfolio of internal clients. Clients include NCL branches such as consumer marketing, hotel operations, new build development as well as initiatives like Casinos at Sea and the company’s loyalty program Latitudes Rewards.

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Rebel Fish Creative Group will be tasked with spearheading a range of marketing efforts – from major brand campaigns and out-of-home initiatives to direct mail communications, social media content creation and even ideating new onboard concepts for the cruise line.

“I am excited to celebrate the launch of Rebel Fish Creative Group and showcase how much we value the exceptional work this team is doing to position NCL as the vacation of choice,” said David Herrera, the company’s chief consumer sales and marketing officer, in a statement.

“From producing some of the company’s most meaningful and strategic campaigns during one of the toughest times in our history, to supporting the record-breaking launch of [our new ship] Norwegian Prima, this team continues to step up and play an important role in the company’s comeback story and continued growth.”

As of 2022, NCL’s internal marketers have more than tripled its production of work since 2019, according to the company – making the current moment an opportune time to dial up its in-house capabilities. Over the last few years, the brand’s internal team has led major initiatives including its 2020 ‘Break Free’ campaign, the cruise company’s first global ad campaign, which was set against the backdrop of Queen’s iconic 1984 track, I Want to Break Free. It went on to become the brand’s longest-running campaign ever and surpassed previous records for viewer likability, according to Norwegian.

Internal creatives also spearheaded NCL’s ‘Great Cruise Comeback’ – the major, multistage initiative created to get the company’s 18-ship fleet back in operation following a 500-day hiatus brought on by the pandemic. The campaign helped to drive record-breaking sales on Norwegian Prima, the new ship unveiled in 2022 that marked the launch of NCL’s new Prima Class, its first new class in almost 10 years.

Considering these recent wins, the company says that in-housing makes sense for NCL because its internal talent “is closer to and more passionate about the brand” than agency-side marketers would be.

Further, an in-house team “benefits from the complete immersion and understanding of the needs of the organization, optimizes operations to enhance internal support and provides the ability to be nimble and quick to market,” said Becky Winters, senior director of Rebel Fish Creative Group.

NCL joins a growing cohort of brands turning inward to solve their marketing riddles. In fact, some 80% of multinational organizations relied on in-housing in 2022 – up from 57% in 2020, according to recent research by the World Federation of Advertisers in partnership with Observatory International.

Winters will helm the newly-established group. She’s been with NCL for 15 years and comes to the role with over three decades of experience in total. “The launch of Rebel Fish Creative Group recognizes the success the team has received for their creative and strategic thinking over the years.”

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Hospitality In-house Brand Strategy

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