Sixteen nations, eight matches, and only one winner who will be crowned “The World Cook.” TUI, a leading travel brand, wanted to invite audiences to learn more about their new vacation packages in a fun and creative way. So the brand leaned into their customers’ biggest passions—food and travel—and created a globe-trotting cooking show.
By working with Amazon Ads, agency partner EssenceMediacom, and production company Electric Robin, TUI landed on the idea of creating a competitive cooking series, The World Cook, for streaming audiences that organically incorporates their brand message and products in an entertaining and engaging way. For example, The World Cook’s competition locations are set at TUI BLUE hotels. Amazon Ads was a natural fit for the project, as TUI had worked with Amazon Ads using Amazon DSP and video ads solutions for other successful campaigns. Collaborating on viewer-led content through brand-funded programming seemed like the perfect next step.
The World Cook launched on Prime Video in December 2022. The show, which is hosted by TV broadcasters Fred Sirieix and Emma Willis, spotlights contestants who compete in country-specific cooking challenges across locations, including Italy, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, Croatia, and Austria. Their culinary creations are critiqued by a panel of guest judges including Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, fashion model Daisy Lowe, TV presenter Laura Jackson, and restaurant critics Jay Rayner and Grace Dent. The winner of the seven-part series is then crowned “The World Cook,” and has one of TUI’s restaurants at the TUI BLUE El Dorado Seaside Suites hotel in Mexico named after them, and the chance to design a dish for the à la carte menu.
For TUI, brand-funded programming was an opportunity to help blend their creative and commercial goals while enabling them to build audience affinity, tell big stories, and be a part of timely conversations. Brand-funded programs are generally independently created, which was the case with TUI. This means a brand will create the content with their agency partner or production company, and then authentically integrate their brand’s message within the content. Once the brand-funded content is created, the brand can publish the content to Prime Video, and drive viewers to discover it through promotional placements across Amazon Ads properties.
TUI’s venture into brand-funded content demonstrates how quality programming can help brands stand out and reach new audiences in entertaining and unexpected ways.
“The race for people’s attention is increasingly difficult, and what traditionally worked in the past maybe doesn’t work now,” said Toby Horry, global brand and content director at TUI, during a recent Amazon Ads panel discussion at Advertising Week Europe.
“As a brand, the holy grail is that you’re integrated into content that people are choosing to watch, rather than it being forced. And brand-funded programming is just a brilliant way of doing that,” he added.
When it comes to maintaining a high bar for quality content, finding authentic and relevant ways for brands to integrate into storylines is key, according to Claire Prince, director and head of branded entertainment at EssenceMediacom, who was also a panelist at Advertising Week Europe.
“This is not an opportunity for 47 minutes of promoting a brand. But brands can also bring a lot of insight to content,” said Prince. “For example, with The World Cook, TUI brought the knowledge of the locations, and it made sense why their planes and resorts were present in the show.”
She added, “It’s a balance to ensure you’re including the richness that a brand can bring to editorial, but never letting go of the reason why you’re making a show: the audience.”
Once episodes of The World Cook were filmed and edited, the next step was making sure the content was reaching relevant audiences. The series was promoted through display and video placements across Amazon-owned properties like Freevee, Fire TV, Premier League spots on Prime Video, and Amazon DSP to drive discovery on Prime Video. Early collaboration among all parties—from concepting and strategy through to execution and amplification—was crucial to successfully deliver a cohesive campaign that drove business results for TUI.
“Audiences loved the show,” confirmed Horry. “Ninety-three percent of viewers enjoyed watching TUI’s The World Cook.1 We also saw shifts in perception of the TUI brand in two of our KPI areas: quality and breadth of choice.”
The brand saw a 4.5% increase in perceptions that TUI offer a variety of destinations and experiences and 6% that they are a high-quality travel provider.2 Additionally, viewers also recalled the subtle TUI product placements as very eye-catching, especially the branded TUI plane shot, with an almost 30% lift in aided product placement recall.3
For marketers interested in creating brand-funded programming, Horry notes that collaborating with specialists in the space is key. “My advice? Make sure you work with great people who know what they’re talking about,” he said. “The passion that Fred, Emma, EssenceMediacom, Electric Robin, and Amazon Ads put into the show, and wanting it to be successful, was absolutely fantastic. Get the strategy right, and work with fantastic people.”