Case Study: Sixthman

social media strategy case study

Sixthman, now a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), created the music-themed cruise concept with the launch of the “Rockboat” in 2000, where fans of three bands cruised and mingled with the musicians aboard a cruise ship for five days. Today, Sixthman produces 15 themed cruises each year between November and March, headlined by legacy acts including KISS and Kid Rock, multi-artist music cruises with singer-songwriters or outlaw country musicians, specialty themed cruises focused on hit TV shows or NASCAR racing. Over the past 16 years, Sixthman has hosted 94 full-boat cruises, with over 200,000 guests and 850 participating artists.

CHALLENGE: Sixthman desired to create new revenue through brand partnerships. Unique to their situation is that they owned the real estate aboard the cruise ships on which their events took place, that allowed them to do all kinds of signage, product sampling, product placement-for-sales and on board promotion. However, in many cases, the revenue raised from brand partnerships that were executed solely on-board the ship required a revenue split with the headline artists. In some cases, this was as high as 85%. Sixthman engaged Ventura & Co. to initiate a brand-partnership program, but Vco was also tasked with finding ways to create additional revenue that did not require the 85/15 split with the artists.

SOLUTION: Ventura surmised that the agreement with the artists regarding a revenue split only applied to those promotions or concepts that were executed aboard ship during the period of the cruise and that any revenue generated before or after was not subject to the revenue share agreement. Ventura also realized that the cruise guests arrived in the Miami area the day before the cruise set sail, and they arrived in vacation / party mood. Noting on Sixthman’s social channels that cruise guests were creating unofficial pre-sailing parties and get-togethers on their own, Ventura created an “official” pre-party that was then promoted via Sixthman’s dedicated social channels and email for each event. Vco solicited Marriott Hotels as the “official” pre-party location. We also arranged for room blocks for cruise guests to stay at the Marriott property the night before embarkation. Sixthman received a 10% commission on all rooms booked through the room blocks. We then sold sponsorship of the “official” pre-parties to brands in three categories – liquor, beer and energy drink.

RESULTS: Because the pre-parties did not fall under the regulations for revenue splits with the cruise headline artists, Sixthman reaped 100% of the revenue. Year One revenue totaled $335,000 – $225,000 of which came from the three category sponsors (at $5,000 per party each) for 15 parties, and an additional $100,000 in commissions from Marriott for rooms booked by cruise guests through the room blocks.