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25 . 02 . 22

DMA Gold-winning print campaign for Cunard sees an impressive £2m return

Words by: Print Power
As the pandemic confined us to our homes and put the brakes on travel, how could cruise line Cunard reignite our wanderlust? Through sumptuously printed direct mail that conjured up the luxury and excitement of life on the ocean waves. Armadillo’s Creative Director Hannah Waters talks to us about their DMA Gold-winning CRM campaign

Over the last two years of uncertainty, Covid-19 destroyed our globetrotting plans and left us anxiously confined to our four walls – a devastating blow to the travel business. As well as flights being grounded, Covid-19 put cruise plans on hold too, fuelling apprehension around future bookings, cancellations and safety. But as travel tentatively became a possibility again, prestige cruise line Cunard needed a campaign that would reignite their guests’ joy of sailing, drive advance bookings and fuel business recovery.

How could they tempt their loyal community of cruisers out of their small, home-based world and back to ocean-bound adventures? After asking for their customers’ views, they found one thing united them all – they wanted to know that travel would be an option again after the stop and start of restrictions. So ‘Permission to daydream’ was the concept and the strategy was to give them that permission, safe in the knowledge that Cunard had their hopes and fears covered.

Luxury through the letterbox

Cunard’s customer base had been sent digital comms throughout the whole of lockdown, so their agency Armadillo decided to focus the campaign on direct mail as print would have more stand out. But it had to be special enough to evoke the magnificence of heritage brand Cunard’s iconic ocean liners as well as seduce them back to their love of sailing and worldly discovery. Their three ships feature some of the grandest suites at sea and any DM had to reflect that.


Whole world in your hands

The solution? Gilt-edged and on heavy stock, an exquisite ‘Invitation to Exploration’ was delivered through letterboxes, together with a luxurious brochure featuring 20 pages of stunning, full-bleed destination photography, and held together with a branded belly band for a slow reveal. 

Armadillo’s Creative Director Hannah Waters further explains their choice of direct mail: ‘We have found print communications key to forming a physical connection with customers in an ever-growing digital world, especially for luxury brands. They appeal to multiple senses, such as touch and feel as well as visual stimulation, which reflects the nature of Cunard’s luxury shops and felt perfectly suited to showcase their 2022 itineraries. We wanted to capture these experiences as best we could and deliver them directly to customers.’


Hannah Waters, Creative Director Armadillo

Seducing the senses

And it’s this physicality that gives a palpable sense of opulence, perfectly aligned with Cunard’s brand. ‘We incorporated physical cues with a variety of luxury textures,’ continues Hannah. ‘Including richly grained stock on the invitations, which contrasted with high shine gold foil and smooth, translucent tissue paper. For this audience, the excitement of seeing a personalised invitation drop through a letterbox far outweighs that of receiving a piece of digital communication.’

 As we’ve seen time and time again, print’s versatility can prove creatively and memorably stimulating in the campaign mix. ‘Print allowed us to explore more ways to surprise and delight this audience,’ says Hannah. ‘They could unwrap the invite and enjoy each part at their own pace, whether that’s savouring each section or heading straight to the breath-taking location imagery. They could even spread it out in front of them and experience it all at once.’


For this audience, the excitement of seeing a personalised invitation drop through a letterbox far outweighs that of receiving a piece of digital communication.
Hannah Waters
Creative Director / Armadillo

Sailing towards success

The results saw a strong return to the seas, says Hannah. ‘We continuously tracked performance during the four weeks following the launch. To do this, we measured against a control group that didn’t receive any direct mail. The results showed the campaign delivered an impressive £2.1 incremental revenue, which is an ROI of 25:1.’

 As well as a high volume of bookings and significant revenue boost, the campaign had a positive impact on driving sales direct via, improving revenue per booking and collection of valuable first-party data. This in turn led to a new guest segmentation and test and learn programme.

 Hannah believes that for the luxury market, there will always be a place for print. ‘Print is taking its rightful place as a luxury item. It is the responsibility of the creatives to use it to its full potential, and make sure the effect is one of delight. Something to be savoured and cherished, not just landfill.’


Source: the Data & Marketing Association (