When it comes to commercials, Hulu is not calling "game over." In fact, the streaming service is hoping to combat viewers' ever-growing discontent with ads by presenting them in a fresh perspective, making the commercials an extension of the shows themselves, rather than a disconnected viewing experience that jolts those watching due to the discrepancy in feel between the ad and the show they are about to watch. It's a different approach to that of Netflix, and Hulu is clearly trying to win the commercial game.
For a generation of television viewers, commercials are the last thing they want to see when they are getting ready to watch the show they have waited all day to see. Hence why Netflix has held an unfettered appeal with its commercial-less offerings, which allows viewers to sumptuously devour a series without the interruption of traditional commercial advertising. Well, Hulu is hoping to change that mindset thanks to ads specially tailored to viewers of Castle Rock and its new space series The First.
The streaming service, which is home to a rising roster of high-profile original series, is hoping to connect viewers of those series with customized commercials that reflect the vibe of said shows. In the case of the Stephen King anthology series Castle Rock, an ad was created for Hotels.com, which showcases a voyage to a place that closely mirrors that of the eerie drama's. Thus, making the connection between the commercial and the series tightly associated.
For its new space drama, The First, which stars Sean Penn as one of five astronauts to be selected as "the first" group of people to colonize Mars, Hulu has opted for ads from SunTrust Bank. And it is not difficult to pick up on the theme. One of the commercials begins with a young girl, who ultimately makes her dream of becoming an astronaut a reality. The ad's message seems to be that financial confidence and dream fulfillment go hand and glove.
Given that The First is a show about astronauts striving for a dream, a commercial that features a young person experiencing their dream coming true makes perfect sense. The First-themed ads will air before the show, and Hulu's vice president of integrated marketing says that the commercials will feel like they are "part of the overall experience," per Variety. Whether fans will ever be excited to see ads or not, remains to be seen.
For its part, Hulu's strategy is attempting to make its viewers' experience, and its need for advertising, as seamless a transition as one can imagine. As for Netflix and Hulu, it is the story of two streaming services with two very different visions for advertising. As Amazon Prime subscribers know, the streamer has been opting for commercials that promote one of its other originals before the program selected airs. You can fast-forward through them.