The announcement was made with a tongue-in-cheek video that features Shaq and Carnival president Christine Duffy but omits one minor detail: CFO stands for 'chief fun officer,' personifying the cruise line’s newly launched 'Choose Fun' brand campaign.
As CFO Shaq will lend his playful, larger-than-life personality to inspire America to 'Choose Fun' with Carnival when planning their next vacation, and in their everyday lives.
Shaq’s role will be brought to life via engaging video content, paid social media and experiential activations, beginning today.
In the first piece of advertising Shaq takes viewers on a humorous, whirlwind 30-second tour of Carnival Vista as he experiences SkyRide, the Havana pool (while fully dressed), Cloud 9 Spa, a burger at Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint and, of course, the basketball court.
The campaign may be an eye-opener for people like Shaq himself, who told Seatrade Cruise News he'd regularly seen cruise ships while living in Miami—he played for Micky Arison's Miami Heat from 2004 to 2008—but had no idea what they offered until he went aboard Carnival Vista for the advertising shoot.
'When I got on the ship, I was blown away. I never new it was that fun,' O'Neal said. 'I just thought it was a boat with a bunch of rooms.'
He reeled off some of the things that impressed him—SkyRide, the barbecue restaurant, the outdoor baskeball court, putt-putt golf. He tried all of them over two days.
'Everyone who knows Shaq knows I like to have fun ... and, guess what, I will be going on two cruises,' he disclosed in an interview. They'll be in 2018, from Miami.
It hasn't been determined if these will be surprise ship visits or planned cruises.
In the interview with Seatrade Cruise News O'Neal also wanted to talk about the new Carnival Horizon, debuting in the spring. Describing the ship, he used the exclamation 'Whoo-Whee!' and even spelled it out for emphasis.
Shaq's appointment as chief fun officer adds a celebrity endorsement to the 'Choose Fun' campaign, which otherwise uses testimonials from 'regular' people.
O'Neal is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Besides Miami Heat, he played for Orlando Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. He has four NBA championship rings, including for the Heat (2006). He has appeared in numerous films, television shows and commercials, and is an active businessman and investor.
'We are very excited to have Shaq as part of the Carnival team,' Duffy said. 'He will serve as a great ambassador, ensuring everyone knows all about our one-of-a-kind brand of fun.'