P&O Ferries: Turning the ship in stormy seas

Publicis•Poke and Starcom

Client: P&O Ferries

We want to tell you a story about leadership: P&O Ferries turning their ship around in seriously stormy seas. No, not literally. The brand was facing the lowest YouGov scores recorded and a shrinking ferry category as people defaulted to low-cost airlines. In this battle, where better to search for a bold, decisive strategy than from Sun Tzu’s Art of War (pretentious we know). He said, “The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself” – so whilst P&O Ferries competitors might be faster and cheaper, that doesn’t necessarily mean better. A summer of travel chaos therefore became an opportunity, we could grow the brand and consideration by reminding people of a simple fact: there is another way. Our campaign positioned them as the most enjoyable way to travel, the top driver of consideration for the category. The ads pointed out our competitor’s short-comings right in front of them, with geographically-targeted and contextual placements to maximise impact. The campaign saw a brand with a tiny share of voice boost awareness, consideration, key brand metrics and even bookings. When we’re done, you’ll see why bold, strategic thinking is the best bet for turning a ship in stormy seas.