Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ship lost at sea with project brief on board

I read the following article this morning on New Media Age. Not every body is going to be able to see it because it is a subscription service but to paraphrase:

P & O Cruises has announced today the relaunch of it's redesigned website.

"A spokesman for P&O Cruises said the aim of the site was to be innovative enough to attract new customers yet simple enough for Internet novices to navigate.

The new site offers a video tour of each of the company's five luxury liners. It also has separate sections to cater for first-time cruisers and those who have holidayed with the company before."

Now I know quite a bit about this project because over the Christmas period 2003 I and 4 other agencies pitched for the business. I remember it being a very tight schedule and I worked late on Christmas Eve along with the Creative Director to get it finished.

The description above is very much like the brief I responded to. We were actually eliminated during the second round and from what I gather the winner was later told that they would not be awarded the deal either. 2 years have now gone by and as of a few minutes ago the site is not launched which means that the PR piece has gone out before the site went up.

One of the things I say time and time again to clients is that a website is interactive not just for users but also for the company. It is easy to make changes and additions to it and this actually has a benefit as customers will come back to the site to see the new features and information (obviosuly you need to tell them about it).

Taking the view that the website is like a piece of print where every last detail has to be perfect prior to launch delays the site, and in this case it seems that severe delays may have occurred. In the meantime the site is going to be launched with what looks to me like a 2+ year old brief and in the meantime other companies have come along and created a more vibrant image of a cruise company (The excellent work for Royal Caribbean done by Positive Thinking comes to mind) has placed P&O further down in customers minds than was necessary. Obviously I have issues with the website (I usually will) but the point is that the consumer's perception of what a cruise is, has been challenged and probably changed through the media communications and has been made more appealing.

To me this is a clear example of people who get it (Royal Caribbean) and people who don't (P&O). Media has moved on dramatically since the brief was given out and yet the brief has remained stagnant and in development for over two years. Agencies can only help clients who are prepared to let themsleves be helped and the rate at which media is changing the worst thing in the world anybody can do right now, is nothing.

Somehow I suspect that a company in Southampton hasn't heard this message yet.

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