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Carnival Cruise Lines discovers the power of ‘granfluencers’ and TikTok

The campaign: Carnival Cruise Lines teamed up with the retiree-focused TikTok group, Retirement House, to engage a multi-generational audience in an innovative manner.

Enter the granfluencer: Instead of the stereotypical young influencers, Retirement House’s channel boasts retirees diving headfirst into Gen Z TikTok trends, offering a delightful 'fish out of water' narrative.

  • The account has 5.3 million followers and has generated 120.4 million likes; in the process, it has garnered coverage from major media like “Good Morning America” to The New York Times, and placed them at the zenith of the “granfluencers” movement.
  • While its strength remains with younger users, it's worth noting TikTok has 33.6 million US users ages 35 and older, per our forecast.

How it happened: The collaboration came to life with the aid of Gen Z media company IF7 and ad agency Initiative.

The result was a TikTok series in which retired NFL star Rob Gronkowski, recruited by Carnival, gets lessons in leisure from the Retirement House crew on a cruise.

  • The challenge was twofold: create engaging content that seamlessly integrated Carnival's brand and appealed to all age groups while preserving TikTok's authenticity and upholding brand values.
  • Shot in 4 hours with two iPhones, the campaign produced a three-part series with Gronkowski and Retirement House, alongside other promotional clips.
  • Initial data reveals views exceeding targets, with 8.6 million on TikTok and 321,000 on Instagram Reels. Gronkowski's share in an Instagram story further boosted engagement, nearly doubling the metrics.

Wrapping up: Gronkowski’s notoriety broadened the campaign's appeal, connecting with both sports fans and leisure seekers.

  • For Carnival, TikTok's wide reach and authenticity made it an ideal platform choice. The tieup allowed for a natural brand integration into popular culture, showing the power of genuine engagement in the digital landscape while highlighting TikTok's influence on cultural conversations.
  • "This was one of those initiatives that clicked for us immediately," said Harley Block, CEO of IF7. "The concept made everyone smile the second we started brainstorming it. Entering the cultural conversation in fun, non-traditional and organic ways with the right partners is what resonates with today's audiences."