Friday, July 6, 2012

Cruise Line Product Placement or Promotion?

Product placement has been big business in television and movies for a long, long time. You never saw Joan Crawford sip on a Coca-Cola in any appearances she made late in her career—her last husband Alfred Steele was an executive with Pepsi and bottles of that soft drink were prominently placed alongside the iconic actress.

More recently, I've noticed a number of product placements on my favorite television channel HGTV. Not only do advertisements run for sponsors like Glade, Bush's Baked Beans, and Volvo, but the products themselves appear in the regular programming as well. It really doesn't bother me in the slightest. After all, most viewers are sophisticated enough to know what's going on and it's not exactly sneaky.

So, it was no surprise that Royal Caribbean was a sponsor of the recently broadcast Tony Awards, which just so happened to feature a clip of "Hairspray" being performed aboard Oasis of the Seas during the award show itself. In Adam Goldstein's blog Sea Views, the Royal Caribbean President and CEO explains the reasoning behind the cruise line's participation in the televised Tony Awards show:
A post script on the Tony Awards—we were very pleased to have been able to showcase our off off off off off off Broadway production of Hairspray live from Oasis of the Seas. It made a very positive statement about the caliber of our entertainment. Despite all of our marketing, we believe most noncruisers do not yet appreciate how good our entertainment has become. Thank goodness the live link worked—it was nerve wracking down to the last second—and we are excited that approximately six million people viewed the performance. The Tony Awards producers were very supportive of this undertaking. Some of the post event media treated our participation in the show as a controversial product placement. Interestingly, the coverage I read was not particularly critical of Royal Caribbean for doing such a product placement but rather of the trend toward more intrusive product placement citing our initiative as an example. If anything, the commentators opined that Royal Caribbean had been given an opportunity it shouldn’t have received. From my vantage point, this is the direction in which product placement is moving. Over a half million of our guests per year can see one of Hairspray, Chicago or Saturday Night Fever on our ships which promotes Broadway style entertainment. The Tony Awards audience saw that such entertainment exists on Royal Caribbean International. Makes sense to me.

No comments: