Cunard’s “Trailblazing Mail” sells out maiden voyage in less than a day

The highly crafted mailer uses the emotional power of touch

Cunard’s “Trailblazing Mail” sells out maiden voyage in less than a day

"Trailblazing Mail" is where Campaign and Marketreach showcase campaigns that demonstrate the most creative, innovative or effective use of mail, a medium that's providing fresh disruption in an age of screen overload. 

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Cunard wanted to add an extra layer of exclusivity to a sneak preview for discerning travellers of the Queen Anne, the first new ship to join its line in more than a decade. And it did just this with a luxury mail campaign that fully capitalised on the emotional power of touch and has made it a winner in the “Trailblazing Mail” series.

The question for Cunard and CRM specialist Armadillo was how best to drive bookings with an experience that wowed guests, reflecting the elevated experience they could expect once on board and reinforced the brand’s ambition to be the benchmark of luxury travel. And when it came to which medium to use, there was only one answer.

Mail already played an important role for Cunard, its senior CRM manager Louisa Gould explains. It keeps guests entertained, updated, and informed about all things Cunard-related. It promotes its latest voyages. And it helps build a bond with guests. 

“It’s how we share a wealth of information about ship itineraries and product developments, for example,” she says. “We know our guests like to spend time browsing through the details when choosing their next voyage, and mail is often the best means for that.” 

But for this campaign, mail offered some particular and additional advantages.

A collector’s item
“When considering the impact we needed to achieve with our audience – an immediate ‘wow’ and a treasured keepsake they could refer to – we looked at the success achieved with previous campaigns and felt that mail was the best medium to craft that impact,” says Armadillo creative director Hannah Waters. 

Mail delivers a closer experience to the extra special touches experienced on board a Cunard ship, she explains. Further, print lends itself to slow-paced storytelling, enhancing a sense of “unveiling” as the guest unfolds or turns the pages to discover what’s inside - much the same as opening a door on board. 

“While there are many innovative digital effects we could have used to create an explorative experience, the screen would always be an additional barrier as far as physical touch is concerned. Additionally, we wanted people to feel a sense of ownership of this piece, something to touch and feel that was entirely ‘theirs’,” she adds.

So with Queen Anne’s promise of more choices and enhanced experiences than ever before, the team set out to convey this by appealing to the highly-discerning audience’s appreciation of quality, luxury and class through the high level of craftsmanship and the materials used.

Discovery through touch

“We explored different ways that we could create a journey of discovery through touch,” Waters explains. This involved identifying appropriate materials, textures, weights and finishes to elicit the desired emotional responses: excitement and intrigue, inspiration and pride, a sense of ownership and awe.

“We conducted in-depth exploration of different types of paper engineering that could unfold to create impressive 3D structures reflective of the onboard architecture,” she continues. 

“We felt that a journey with twists and turns, that could be explored at their own pace, would be most reflective of the Queen Anne onboard experience. Around every corner they would find something new and unexpected, while at the same time just what they have come to expect from a Cunard level of quality.”

Quality & craft

The end result is a crisp, white post-pack – a representation of Cunard’s famous White Star Service – containing a richly textured black, clamshell presentation box adorned with iconic Cunard brand elements in pristine gold foil.

On lifting the lid, a collection of four teal and gold cards is revealed. Each is an artistic rendition of Queen Anne's unique architectural features – such as the Grand Lobby, designed by world-leading artists and architects, and the magnificent column in the Britannia Restaurant. 

On the reverse of each card, a glimpse of the ship's interior is shown through richly coloured renders – with the aim of igniting guests' imaginations about what to expect.

Beneath the cards is a carefully crafted 16-page brochure containing further images of Queen Anne and her initial destinations, alongside itineraries from her maiden voyage. The back page details contact methods preferred by this audience, a URL, a phone number, a reminder they can use their travel agent, and a QR code which takes users to the Queen Anne's maiden season page where they can explore all the destinations on offer.

The engineering

The main challenge of the project was working within the budgets and international mail size limits while ensuring the pack remained entirely recyclable.

“When it came to the clamshell structure, we had to create a case that would feel robust and impressive without using a reinforced spine of metal or plastic and stay closed without a magnet,” adds Waters.

“This meant plenty of experimenting with the friction needed to hold it closed but allow it to be easily opened. We wanted to avoid unnecessary clutter created by elements like a ribbon to tie the outside, to ensure we maintained the clean unadulterated lines of the deco design.”

Inside, the double gatefold card pack structure posed additional challenges. 

Achieving the rigidity of the double gatefold pack, made from a single sheet of card, while allowing for heavy stock cards inside that felt substantial was tricky, for example. As was making the cards both stay in place during delivery and, on opening, slide in and out of their slots satisfyingly. 

To avoid any type of plastic on the outer pack closing mechanism – and to minimise risk of damage to the pack – a circular paper sticker was chosen.

Cunard’s Queen Anne direct mailing was sent to more than 13,000 loyal guests and 65,000 previous guests around the globe in May 2022 ahead of a public launch a few days later as part of a ‘Unveiling Queen Anne / The Next in a Fine Line’ campaign run across social, CRM and trade. 

In the four weeks following the mail pack’s launch, Cunard reported over 1,500 bookings for cruises on the Queen Anne, worth more than £6 million. On top of this, the pack stimulated a halo effect for the rest of the Cunard fleet, attracting an additional 1,400 bookings from these guests on the other three Queens worth another £6 million.

It was, says Gould, “phenomenally well-received”. 

“A new ship joining the fleet is a huge occasion,” she observes. The last ship to join Cunard’s fleet was Queen Elizabeth in 2010. “Our DM pack helps celebrate this milestone by providing our loyal guests with a luxury tangible memento that we know is treasured.”

Marketreach Insight

Giving loyal customers a sneak preview prior to any launch is guaranteed to make them feel special, but Cunard’s beautiful, high-end mailing delivers a sneak preview with an extra exclusivity layered on top.

Research shows that touch creates an emotive response. By putting the Queen Anne’s enhanced cruising experience directly into guests’ hands and bringing it to life in a highly tactical and visual way, Cunard are guaranteed to get loyal guests’ hearts racing with expectancy.

From the first touch to the final reveal the mailing oozes class and glamour. The crisp, white envelope alludes to Cunard’s famous White Star Service. Inside, a richly textured black presentation box, adorned with iconic Cunard brand elements in pristine gold foil, delivers the anticipation of an unboxing experience. 

Once inside, instead of just talking about and showing the opulence and meticulous design of the new ship, this highly tactile pack teases it in a uniquely creative way through the 4 dazzling gold-leafed cards, each an artistic rendition of Queen Anne’s unique architectural features. Cunard knows the cards will become collectors’ items, keeping the brand in the home…and in the hearts…of loyal guests for years to come.   

And by giving just a glimpse of the ship’s interior, shown through richly coloured renders, Cunard cleverly ignites guests’ imaginations about what to expect. 

Finally, the very fact that Cunard is using mail to launch the Queen Anne will make loyal guests feel valued - this is supported by Marketreach's research which reported that 70% of people said they feel valued when receiving mail.

The effort and care taken with the pack wouldn’t go unnoticed either.  The same research reported that people are three times more likely to agree that mail shows that “the sender has taken care with the communication” than email.


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