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Friday, January 24, 2020

Finlandia SeawaysBrand - a word with iconic status in modern businesses of all kinds.

No official announcement yet in December as I write, but there are reports that the ex Seafrance ex MyFerryLink now DFDS SeawaysRodin and Berlioz may be renamed Cotes des Dunes and Cote des Flandres suggesting DFDS are heading into another rebrand, dropping the ‘Seaways’ useage, at least on the ships’ name and hull.

There’s no information as to funnel or hull colour. If true, it is fascinating that the Transmanche Newhaven-Dieppe route DFDS are operating, that I’ve always thought of as the poor relation, has given them through Transmanche’s Cotes d’Alabtre the theme for the new nomenclature, at least on the Channel. Then there are hints of different name theming in other regions.

It was only relatively recently that DFDS drove through a radical and comprehensive rebranding throughout their whole fleet including subsidiaries. The ‘Seaways’ names took some getting used to and though punching home the ‘Seaways’ brand, they were not as easy on the ear as the old ones. Names like Pearl Seaways and Crown Seaways made little sense unless you knew the ships were previously named Pearl of Scandinavia and Crown of Scandinavia. Maybe there is an obvious explanation for the extent and timing of what looks like a premature rebranding.

Is it a result wholly or in part of the notorious Lysblink Seaways stranding last February? DFDS are possibly rueing the day of their Lys Line takeover in 2005. Lys Line founded in 1976 ran freight services from Scandinavia to Germany, Holland, Belgium, Iberia and Italy as well as the UK and Ireland. The Lys Line ships were fully integrated in DFDS naming and livery policy in 2010 co-ordinating their freighters’ naming with high profi le prestigious passenger ro-ros. So when last year a drunken officer ran Lysblink Seaways bang into Ardnamurchan when on the way from Belfast to Trondheim, the brand was plastered over the national and international media. And recently, there was equally vast unwanted exposure when in November, the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) made their report which made front page headlines once more and not in a good way. In the MAIB report, DFDS got off quite lightly as it was plainly against company policy for alcohol to be available to crew especially watch-keeping officers. On this ship, it was just apparently not enforced. It will be now.

The officers concerned “are no longer with the company,” but in reality anytime a search engine is asked to look up the word ‘Ferries’ and ‘Seaways’ for years to come the embarrassing Lysblink Seaways images and reports will be on the screen. So it is no wonder a sensitive marketing department in a company like DFDS might see it is a good idea to make radical changes sooner rather than later.

Back to the former MyFerryLink ships: no doubt DFDS also wanted to put some distance between their own brand and the two good vessels they have acquired which have such a chequered past service. Now the names Rodin and Berlioz will be history, but their acquisition has (hopefully) ended the saga of successive blockades and disruption which was giving all Dover-Calais ferries a bad name and has for the foreseeable future reduced the companies operating the premier Channel route to just the two, which has long been the aim of P&O, DFDS and the UK competition authorities.

More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - January 2016 Issue
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