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Cruise line insists primetime brand funded Channel 7 show is ‘authentic and genuine’

Cruise line Royal Caribbean has funded a one-hour branded content piece that will air on Channel 7 next week as part of its multi-million dollar brand campaign.

The company, which launched its first Australian TV push late last year, paid for Tim “Rosso” Ross and TV presenters Tom Williams and Rachael Finch to experience a cruise onboard Voyager of the Seas.

The result, Tom Rach and Rosso go Cruising, will be broadcast on Channel 7 on March 31 at 8pm.

The branded piece, which was led and developed by media agency Slingshot, is part of Royal Caribbean’s attempts to lift its profile as the challenger brand in Australia, promote its onboard product and dispel the view that cruising is for the elderly and is boring.

Marketing manager Rosie Rissetto-Spiers denied the program would come across as simply an hour-long advert with celebrities paid to endorse a product.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 11.01.21 AMShe told Mumbrella it was “authentic and genuine” with Royal Caribbean largely relinquishing control of the production to Channel 7. It was unscripted and “completely off the cuff”.

“We were really clear on what parts of the experience we wanted to offer the three celebrities on board, but we came to the table very much not wanting this to be an explicit branded piece,” Rissetto-Spiers said. “It wasn’t about how many mentions we had or logo placement. It was about getting those celebrities to experience what Royal Caribbean can offer on Voyager of the Seas.”

Channel 7 Logo-2015

She added: “I think consumers become sceptical and turn off when it is 60 minute advertisment. We were really mindful of allowing Channel 7 to do what they do well which is producing entertaining content.

“They also know the audience better than we do. Our objective was to create entertaining content that Australians want to watch.”

While TV ads can help raise the profile of a brand, Rissetto-Spiers said showcasing product in any meaningful way through 30 second and 60 second TV slots is difficult. She praised the company’s media agency Slingshot for negotiating the Channel 7 deal.

“Brands need to work increasingly hard to break through the clutter. We know we have great stories to tell but it’s hard to get that message or story across in a 30 second or 60 second spot,” she said. “This [branded piece] gives us a great extension and broader platform to tell that richer story.

“It was a genuine experience that Channel 7 produced.”

Royal Caribbean commercial director Sean Treacy declined to reveal the total investment in the branded show, saying it was a component of the cruise line’s multi-million dollar campaign launched last year.

Slingshot chief executive Simon Rutherford described it as a “brave move” for a challenger brand to invest in a branded TV show so soon after launching its first local TV push.

He also admitted there was a fine line between producing a show people will enjoy to one that is simply an advert.

“Often these can become one-hour adverts but this is more subtle. Channel 7 have produced something that is genuine and entertaining,” he said. “The three celebrities are also real mates so nothing is forced.”

The program follows a similar branded piece on Seven by Target last year which featured the department store’s brand ambassador Gok Wan.

Steve Jones

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