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Carnival 'knows' how difficult it can be to find a good PR vehicle…unless it's a nose

The nose. We sniff with it. Sometimes we blow it, or pick it, stick it in other people's business. The nose can make the difference in a horse race or in the career of a celebrity, aka Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope or Michael Jackson. The most famous one of all may belong to a mystical reindeer who can fly. And is there anybody, anywhere, who thinks their nose is small?

For all its uses, the focus of an advertising campaign would be far down the list, or perhaps off it.

Then, along came Carnival. Yes, the cruise line. The one everybody loves to ridicule even if they didn't know it existed until there was a reason to ridicule it. So maybe an ad campaign with a nose as the feature attraction was just the right size, or fit.

This story began innocently enough. A PR firm in Australia, named Ogilvy, "highjacked an iconic moment on the Australian calendar." More than a Spirit-AU 580 2moment…a whole day. Red Nose Day. They put it together with a local charity (SIDS and Kids) and invited everybody within sight to "get silly for a serious cause."

The origins of Red Nose Day seem to be in England, where it has become — as the Brits would say — a massive fundraiser. How massive is $100 million in 2013 alone? It was started by an organization called Comic Relief and the slogan every March is to "do something funny for money" so Carnival and Australia simply changed a few words.

They also built a nose bigger than Durante's. A red one, even bigger than Rudolph's: 7 metres (23 feet) in diameter. Then they stuck it on the bow of the Carnival Spirit, lit it up and sailed the ship past Sydney's greatest landmarks, The Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Passengers on the ship participated. people on the shore participated. Internet users entered a chance to win a cruise by "red nosing themselves" at rednoseme.com. The whole thing went…viral.

How viral?

• International impressions that reached 178 million
• Free coverage on 250 TV stations in Australia
• A photo gallery on The Daily Mail's website, which has a huge…no, massive, reach
• 144,400 Facebook friends
• A popularity rating of 100%

All of this exceeded Carnival's expectations, and it all started with a nose. 

Or somebody who had one that smelled success.

Norwegian Pearl
7 nights
January 5, 2013
Miami (return): Great Stirrup CayOcho RiosGrand CaymanCozumel
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64
www.ncl.com

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