×

Carnival Cruise Line, Thrillist Team Up for ‘Island Hoppers’ Mobile Series

 Carnival Cruise Line is creating some high-seas drama of its own.

The cruise-line operator is working with travel-and-entertainment recommendation site Thrillist to launch “Island Hoppers,” a comedy-competition series that will begin to stream via Thrillist’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter channels. Thanks to Discovery’s stake in Thrillist parent Group Nine, the series will also make its way to Travel Channel’s mobile app for authenticated subscribers.

The seven-episode series is hosted by actor James Van Der Beek and takes viewers along for a battle among three comics as they vie to win a gig to perform at Carnival’s on-ship Punchliner Comedy Clubs. I’m not really a host, and I’m definitely not a standup,” said Van Der Beek, in a prepared statement. “But this show is so unique I feel like that worked in our favor. As a writer and actor, I have a huge appreciation for what it takes to get up in front of a room full of strangers and make people laugh, so it was a joy to jump in and play with a group this talented and hilarious.”

“This is a way for us to really lean in and tell the story of our brand,” says Melissa Anido-Lopez, Carnival’s senior director of media strategy, planning and marketing optimization, in an interview. Traditional video ads would not let a marketer show off so many elements of its business, she says. The new series was filmed during  a recent Caribbean cruise aboard Carnival Horizon.

Omnicom Media Group’s Content Collective unit helped put the effort together in conjunction with PHD, the company’s Omnicom-owned media agency. The goal, says Jeff Fischer, managing director of the unit, was “How do we increase awareness and consideration for ‘cruise rookies’?” During the series, three competitors will take part in a cocktail-making contest and go on a bobsled ride.

The series provides the latest instance of marketers creating their own programming, part of a growing emphasis on content that dovetails with the interests of audiences for specific media outlets. The theory is that consumers will be more open to such stuff, as they are growing more able to avoid traditional advertising pitches. “This is so natural to the environment  that it doesn’t feel so overtly like branded content,” says Jody Rones, Thrillist’s chief revenue officer.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Urges Gavin Newsom to Sign Law Punishing 'Deep Fake' Videos

    SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign legislation that institutes penalties for nonconsensual digital sexually explicit videos, also known as “deep fakes.” The legislation, Assembly Bill 602, targets companies and individuals who create and distribute the videos in California without the consent of the individual being depicted. “We urge Gov. [...]

  • Facebook Portal logo

    Facebook Is Launching a Portal TV Device: Here’s What We Know

    Facebook is getting ready to launch a TV streaming device in time for the holiday season, Variety has been able to confirm with multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. The new streaming hardware will be part of the company’s Portal family of devices, featuring a camera, and combining video chatting with TV viewing and [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Shuts Down, With Parent Company Citing Failure to Raise Funds

    MoviePass, the long-struggling theater subscription service, finally appears to be down for the count. On Friday, MoviePass notified remaining subscribers that it would be shutting down the service effective Sept. 14, 2019, because “its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics announced. “The company is continuing [...]

  • Disney Plus - Full Lineup

    How to Browse the Disney Plus Catalog the Company Is Testing in the Netherlands

    Disney began testing its Disney Plus streaming service in the Netherlands this week. Consumers in the U.S. will have to wait until November 12 to get access to the service, but European streaming aggregator JustWatch already makes it possible to browse the catalog available during this beta test. JustWatch is one of a number of [...]

  • JoJo Siwa'The Angry Birds Movie 2'

    Nickelodeon Star JoJo Siwa Gets Her Own Dance-Tour Mobile Game (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of JoJo Siwa will be able to join the teen influencer’s dance squad on stage — virtually — in a new mobile game. In “JoJo Siwa — Live to Dance,” players will become part of the Nickelodon and YouTube star’s worldwide tour on her professional dance team and experience what it’s like to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content