- Carnival Cruise Line partnered with Thrillist to produce a comedy competition series that will stream on the travel-and-entertainment recommendation site's Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter channels. "Island Hoppers" also will appear on Travel Channel's mobile app for authenticated subscribers, Variety reported.
- The seven-episode series challenges three comedians for a chance to perform at Carnival's on-ship Punchliner Comedy Clubs. Actor James Van Der Beek hosts the series, which was filmed aboard the Carnival Horizon in the Caribbean.
- Omnicom Media Group's Content Collective unit helped put the effort together in conjunction with PHD, the company's Omnicom-owned media agency. Thrillist's parent company Group Nine and Travel Channel share Discovery as an owner.
By producing its own show, Carnival can highlight the fun and adventure of taking a cruise while ensuring that the content is completely brand-safe. Such an approach lets brands like Carnival engage audiences with content while reinforcing brand messaging. As consumers face continual bombardment from advertisers, cutting through that clutter is a key strategy for marketers that are trying to reach audiences who have shifted their viewing habits to social media and mobile devices.
The new series complements Carnival's growing mobile strategy, which includes the fall launch of its OceanView Mobile app that compiles branded video content for smartphone viewing. It offers more than 150 episodes of "Ocean Originals" shows like "The Voyager with Josh Garcia," "Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin" and "Vacation Creation with Tommy Davidson and Andrea Feczko."
Carnival is among the brands that are producing their own content as marketers grow more wary about brand safety. While social media and video-sharing platforms are popular with viewers, their dependence on user-generated content opens the gates to a flood of objectionable posts and videos. YouTube, for example, has faced several rounds of advertiser boycotts amid revelations that their media dollars appeared to support hate speech, terrorism or the sexual exploitation of children. Carnival's "Island Hoppers" avoids those negative associations while aiming to foster warm feelings toward the brand.
Other companies like Procter & Gamble, which has produced soap operas for generations, have made content marketing a key part of their marketing strategies. The CPG giant this year released an eight-track album of musical advertisements for its Febreze air freshener that had gained a following on social media, and also produced a musical for its Olay skincare brand. Adobe recently released an 11-minute video that was shot like a short film without any overt branding in an attempt to engage ad-adverse college students.