Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is upping its advertising game with a campaign across four television networks and a December blitz on JetBlue for its hipper, casual sister brand, U River Cruises.

Although Uniworld last year joined the growing number of lines following Viking into the world of television when it became the founding corporate underwriter of "Amanpour & Company" on PBS, it made its first foray across multiple networks last month with ads on CNN, BBC, Smithsonian and Sundance.

CEO Ellen Bettridge said the response was incredible, and the company will renew the campaign after the holidays.

"We are going to come back strong in January, February and March," she said.

Uniworld will advertise its two U ships, The A and The B, on JetBlue during the month of December. The ads will be on every JetBlue screen next month, "every one of them. Millions and millions of eyeballs," she said.

River companies have been slowly but steadily entering the television advertising market since Viking had such success with its ads on the popular television series "Downton Abbey."

"They did a great job of introducing river cruising (to the American market)," Bettridge said. "Now it's our turn to introduce luxury river cruising."  

"Travel agents would tell me over and over, 'I sell Viking because people come in and ask for it,'" she added. "I need to make sure customers understand what luxury river cruising is, and I want them to ask for it."

Avalon Waterways was the first river cruise company to follow Viking when it launched a television ad campaign in 2015 with a six-week run on HGTV, the Travel Channel, CNN and BBC America. And American Cruise Lines now regularly advertises on news networks.

In recent years other lines have begun partnering with specific televisions shows both for ads and in sponsoring cruises featured by food, wine and travel television hosts.

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