Friday, November 10, 2006

Woe to the Vacationer

Norwegian Cruise Line has an ad in this week's New Yorker which touts its "no set dining times" policy. The header for the ad is interesting:

Woe to the Vacationer who is forced to dine at 7 p.m. at table 8 with the Wurtzels from Albany.
Woe. Wow. Whoa.

First off, if I were from Albany, I might be a little insulted by this. And if my name were Wurtzel and I were from Albany, I might be a lot insulted by this. Well, on White Pages, I didn't find any Wurtzels in Albany, but there are plenty of them in NY.

What makes Norwegian Cruise Line so certain that I, as a potential cruiser, would not want to dine with Irving Wurtzel from Poughkeepsie, or Alan and Ruth from Great Neck, or Catherine from Fishkill.

In truth, I wouldn't want to be forced to dine with anyone, but I think that Norwegian is setting a pretty poor tone here. There are a number of different ways that they could have gotten the message across that didn't seem quite so insulting. They could have used a more generic, less ethnic name for starters: the Johnsons, the Smiths, the Rogerses. They could have used a made up a town name - some generic suburban name like "Rolling Meadows Glen". Or made up some ridiculous descriptor - "the couple with the matching poodle hair-do's" or "the family that named all their children after Gumby." Maybe even that would be insulting to someone.

But the real point is that while Norwegian may be trying to make fun of the "boring" passengers on other cruise lines, it unfortunately comes across as a put down of their own customers. After all, if the Wurtzels from Albany are on your ship, they're your customers, too.

7 comments:

Barrett said...

I agree, it does seem to alienate certain groups, such as people from Albany or the Wurtzels, (On that note, you might have missed the Wurtzels, they could be unlisted.) But I digress, I think that the reader needs to see the humor in the tag line, there is inevitably someone on the cruise that they are not going to want to sit next to, and how everyone's luck is, they will be forced to sit next to them. Out of all the people on the cruise. I actually liked the ad, but in the same sentence I respect the arguments against it. But with any ad in any media there is always going to be someone who is offended, and if you can minimize it to the Wurtzel family in Albany, I would say you have done your job.

John Whiteside said...

I wonder if they've concluded that while their typical passengers probably ARE the Wurtzels from Albany (or the Kravitzes from Springfield), they all think they're the really interesting people on the cruise.

Maureen Rogers said...

Yeh, I know I'm just being a cranky scold here - and, truly, I'm not against giving offense. But I think anytime you're making fun of your own audience, you're on dangerous ground.

Anonymous said...

My name is Danielle Wurtzel and i was not extremely offended I just felt special!

Maureen Rogers said...

Well, the Wurtzels have spoken and they sound like very nice people. I hope they all took this ad with the same graciousness that Danielle W has shown.

Vic Judi said...

Over zelaus marketing person trying to make a point? They probably shouldn't have mentioned ANY names. We love NCL and have cruised on their ships 7 times and have an 8th booked. CEO's, marketing execs., and etc., tend to be like our government officials - they live in their own little world.

Master Red said...

Well...
I *am* a Wurtzel from New York. And I live in Albany (sort of: I'm up there once or twice a week for work...)

I wasn't too happy about this because It's simply not funny. If you're going to make fun of my name at least make it funny! harrumph! Grump!