Forget the ratings, MasterChef Australia has won already

As the sixth season of Australia’s original reality cooking show hits the air there will be ongoing debate over the next few weeks regarding the success of the show. However, in fact, the series has already won in more ways than one. In just five years this one show has spawned some of Australian TVs highest rating shows and the revenue they bring.

Before The Block, before My Kitchen Rules, The Voice and Recipe to Riches there was MasterChef Australia. In 2009 it was the first of the TV reality program formats that combined on screen exposure for a range of brands and products, a family-friendly format, quality production values and perhaps the most important, a prime-time weekly slot.

Until then, branded content and product placement style shows had been relegated to a Sunday afternoon following sport. This was arguably the breakthrough that brands and marketers had sought. As the ratings began to climb, so did the interest from the other Australian and New Zealand TV networks and marketers, eager to learn more about this new format.

Opportunities for both brands and the networks to benefit from the MasterChef Australia format quickly became a priority and the ‘funded branded TV model’ along with product placement was embraced. Each network created dedicated teams, eg. Generate at Channel Ten to work with brands and agencies to maximise the on screen exposure. The number of products featured in each season of MasterChef Australia grew along with the vital income they returned to the network-regardless of the ratings. But, how to measure the value to all the brands was the question on everyone’s lips.


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One of the big mistakes brands often make when they embark on a product placement or branded content program is to focus on the screen exposure alone. In fact, there are a number of disciplines and skills sets required combined with a holistic mind set. These include: management, objectives, collaboration, strategy, creative integration, exposure, seeding, activation, amplification/leverage and independent measurement.

All of these disciplines can be measured and, when set against your objectives for the brand, become the hallmark of a professional campaign. Being capable of delivering accurate ROI and in-depth campaign metrics beyond ‘likes’ and ratings are now mandatory for marketers when involved in branded content and product placement.

Over the seasons of MasterChef Australia, our work at Showbrands monitoring many brands and their involvement in the program has shown that some have been successful while others clearly have not learned or understood and have missed out.

Where to now? While the jury may be out on a seventh series of MasterChef Australia, the networks are no doubt happy with the stellar ratings of their other shows. But, I hear you say: Recipe to Riches season one was not a ratings hit. However, it was a hit for the brands involved and just as importantly it signals a new direction in Australian reality TV and the relationship between networks and brands. Collaboration is at the heart and soul of all branded content/product placement programmes and the age of holistic measurement-not just TV ratings has arrived.


Plug: Marketing has teamed up with Showbrands to offer two exclusive resources containing vital information for brand managers and media agency teams involved, or considering being involved, in product placement activity.

Details and pricing information for ‘The Product Placement Handbook’ and ‘Brand Value Analysis Report’ can be found here »

Michael Byers
BY Michael Byers ON 26 May 2014
Michael Byers is managing director of Showbrands, specialising in branded entertainment creative strategy, measurement and project management. Twitter: @Showbrands