on by in Advertising

Hulu’s subscription service launched in Japan in September 2011, and the business has been growing steadily ever since.  We wanted to share a quick update on what’s going on with our first international market. 

Content.
The content library in Japan continues to grow at a rapid clip. Today, we are proud to announce that we have entered into a multi-year agreement with HBO to bring Japanese entertainment fans some of the most compelling American TV programming ever produced. Select HBO shows, including “Sex And The City” and “The Sopranos”, will be available to Hulu subscribers in Japan starting today, with additional HBO hit shows such as “Entourage” and “Band of Brothers” coming later this year.  And earlier this month, Don Draper and the Madison Ave. heavyweights from the hit show “Mad Men” (seasons 1-3), launched on the Hulu service in Japan through a content partnership with Japanese distributor Pony Canyon.

The amount of content available to subscribers overall has increased by more than 300% since the service launched in September 2011. There are now more than 800 films and nearly 6,900 TV show episodes from 24 content providers. And we have continued to heavily invest in creating original subtitles for TV shows that have never before been available in Japan, including new series like “Sons of Anarchy”, “The Office” and “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”

We are also proud that we offer our Japanese subscribers anime series, TV shows, and films from more than 10 Japanese and Korean content partners. In the spring, we launched a partnership with local broadcaster TV Tokyo that brings Hulu subscribers popular TV shows including “Moteki,” “Suzuki Sensei,” “Yuja Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro” and “Saijo no Meii,” as well as next day, catch-up access to popular animation series such as “Inazuma 11” and “Danball Senki”.

We are excited about the content growth to date, and look forward to bringing more premium TV shows and films from around the world to Hulu’s subscribers in Japan.

Device Footprint.
The company has also expanded the number of Hulu-enabled, Internet-connected devices in market. As of today, there are more than 29 million Hulu-enabled devices in the market. Since September 2011, Hulu has launched on many internet connected devices including Sony TVs, Sony PlayStation® 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360®.  We continue to expand our device footprint, and we recently announced Hulu will be coming to Nintendo Wii in Japan. Expect aggressive expansion on more devices through the rest of the year.

National Brand Campaign.
In Q2, we launched our first national brand advertising campaign in Japan, which included a TV commercial, online and out-of-home marketing. The TV commercial, entitled “The Story Goes On”, shows how Hulu connects rich stories with the people who love them. Television has a colorful history, and Hulu is proud to be a part of its future in Japan.

Hulu also took over multiple train lines throughout various parts of Japan, including the Yamanote line in Tokyo. (It’s the “green line”, naturally.)

Yamanote Line in Tokyo

The Hulu Team in Japan.
We now have 19 full-time Hulu team members in Japan.  In April, Buddy Marini joined Hulu as the managing director of our Japan business. Buddy now leads all aspects of Hulu’s business in Japan and is responsible for strategic business planning, day-to-day operations, content acquisition and distribution, and marketing.

To support the growing team, we recently moved into new office space in Roppongi, Tokyo.  Check it out! (We think it’s pretty cool.)

While it is early days for our first international market, we have been extremely pleased by the warm welcome we have received to date. Our service has clearly struck a chord with Japanese consumers, and we are excited about adding more great content and additional distribution partners to further increase its appeal. We are grateful to our content partners and subscribers who have been instrumental to our growth and we will continue to innovate the Hulu service on behalf of all our customers.

Domo Arigato,

Johannes

on by in Advertising, Announcements

At Hulu, we pride ourselves on giving 100% to everything we do.

From Hulugans adorned in over-the-top getups at our annual Huluween costume competition, to April Fools’ pranks taken to the extreme – we are “all in”.

This “all-in” attitude is pervasive throughout our company culture and is ingrained in how we innovate on behalf of our viewers, advertisers and content partners.

Today, we’re excited to announce the newest way we are giving 100% with the introduction of our latest ad innovation:  Hulu will now only charge its advertisers based on a 100% completion rate. This is for advertising sold by Hulu’s advertising team, and will apply to both Hulu and Hulu Plus.

Hulu advertisers will not be charged unless their advertisement has been streamed through completion; in other words, an advertisement that has been 100% delivered. There will be no extra cost to Hulu advertisers for this service.

This is an industry first.  We’d like to thank our forward-thinking beta testers at Zenith Media, General Mills, and Horizon Media for their partnership on this initiative.

Implementing 100% completion rate for Hulu advertisers is just another way we are working with the advertiser and viewer community to innovate. In 2007, we launched the Hulu Ad Selector which allows viewers to choose among multiple ads to select the one most relevant to them.  Recently, we introduced Hulu Ad Swap to market, a cutting edge advertising product that allows viewers to substitute out the ad they are watching for one that they feel is more relevant to them. Since the launch of Hulu Ad Swap, we have seen over 9 million substitutions and that number is increasing every day.

The original Hulu service continues to ramp aggressively both in users and content while Hulu Plus, our US subscription service, passed more than 2 million paid subscribers in Q1 of this year. Based on our research, Hulu Plus has achieved 2 million paying subscribers faster than any video subscription service – online or offline – in US history.

On behalf of the Hulu team, thank you to our customers…users, advertisers and content owners alike.

-JP

JP Colaco
SVP Advertising
jp@hulu.com

on by in Advertising, Announcements, News

I learned a few things during this year’s Super Bowl.

1) It’s really hard to dress for a Super Bowl party when both teams have the same colors. And,

2) I learned what it’s like to be a girl watching her boyfriend get beaten up, as I watched Tom Brady get repeatedly sacked in the final minutes.

At least the ads gave me some chuckles. So I’m here to recount those chuckles now to you.

Best of the Best

Everyone has their favorites. I’m no exception. This year I was pleasantly surprised to find myself guffawing in a very unattractive manner at the Doritos “Sling Baby” ad. The combination of mean kid getting his comeuppance, mild baby abuse, and old lady vengeance just works for me. Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest has evolved from amateur night to some of the most impressive and memorable ads of the game.

My other favorite this year is Skechers’ Mr. Quiggly. I want Mr. Quiggly to go jogging with me every day, and I long for that British announcer to narrate the entire jog in play-by-play fashion, preferably saying “Mr. Quiggly” many, many times. This would make my mornings spectacular. If there’s any way someone out there can arrange that, I’d appreciate it.

Movie Trailers for Bad Movies

I’m not saying these movies will be bad. I’m just saying they almost certainly will be.

Every year during the Super Bowl, we get treated to movie trailers for the year’s biggest flops. Sahara, anyone? This year I’m calling out Battleship (because that’s easy and I don’t like to be wrong), and I’m gonna go ahead and throw that GI Joe movie out there, as well. The commercials for these movies were seen by 90 million people, but it’s a guarantee I won’t know a single person who goes to see the actual films.

Bud Light Switches It Up.

I have never been a fan of Bud Light’s cartoonish, kindergarten-colored ads featuring youngsters drinking beer in someone’s backyard. This year I was both flattered and taken aback when Bud Light began advertising directly to me. In “Work,” soft blue lighting and the sophisticated beats of Avicii set the background for a well-dressed group of young professionals gathering in a modern steel and glass building, drinking Bud Light Platinum. It provides wild contrast from last year’s “Drinkablility” campaign, which basically asked me to funnel Bud Light because it’s “easy to drink.” Since I’m terrible, I plan to continue drinking snooty microbrews no one has heard of. But well played, Bud. Well played.

Some Bizareness

You’d have to ask me a whole lot of times before I would be able to come up with a good reason why the NFL should have to air a commercial for itself during the Super Bowl. That being said, however, “Timeline” wasn’t all that bad.

Cars.com has always had very strange ads, and I’ve disliked them year after year. But this year, I’m finally on board. In “Confident You,” the guy with the confident, bobbing singing second head makes me smile every time I re-watch it.

Celebrity Appearances, the Pointless and the Sublime

Sometimes a celebrity is the focal point of a Super Bowl ad—that pretty person who moves the story along, entertaining you while extolling the virtues of the product you suddenly feel the urge to buy. Acura’s Seinfeld-heavy NSX commercial and Matthew Broderick’s Honda CRV spot are examples of the celebrity appearance done properly. The best celebrity appearance this year was Mean Joe Greene in Downy’s Unstoppables commercial, reprising his role from the classic Coke Ad.

There are times, too, when the celebrity is the product, like the David Beckham underwear ad, or John Stamos’ iffy yogurt ad. (He’s John Stamos, and he’s Greek, which I suppose is the point. But what is the point exactly? I choose the meaning to be, If You Eat This Yogurt, John Stamos Appears In Your Kitchen And You Get To Punch Him.)

Then there’s the true emerging trend of 2012: Celebrities appearing in weird places for five seconds. Last year Audi gave us a chuckle with about eight seconds of Kenny G. This year, many more hopped on the “commercial cameo” bandwagon. Regis Philbin shows up for 2.5 unmemorable seconds in this Pepsi Max ad.  In “King’s Court”, Pepsi also tossed in three seconds of Flavor Flav. Motley Crue made an instantly forgettable appearance in Kia’s “Dream” commercial. (Mötley Crüe had an excuse at least, as they appeared next to Adriana Lima in a bikini.) Even poor little Mr. Quiggly scampered onto the bandwagon, throwing in 1.5 seconds of Mark Cuban for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Samsung definitely pulled off a head scratcher with their celebrity appearance, tossing in English band The Darkness, performing their one hit single that is now a decade old. Bizarre, but certainly memorable.

For Pepsi, Elton John reprised the role he has always had in my nightmares, as Evil Hipster King with Plastic Sunglasses.

Finally, of course, there was Betty White. I’ve never considered network promos to be real Super Bowl ads. (They’re normally just regular promos and I’m used to ignoring them.) But NBC scored with their promo for The Voice by bringing Betty back. Betty’s Snickers ad was the talk of the 2010 Super Bowl, and she was sorely missed last year. Kudos to NBC for turning a bland TV promo into a real opportunity for buzz.

on by in Advertising

Apple’s “1984” Super Bowl ad signaled a new era in personal computers, a revolt against a world portrayed as an Orwellian state dominated by IBM. It also ushered in a new era of Super Bowl advertising where viewers came to expect the ads to be almost as entertaining as the game itself.

The ad, directed by filmmaker Ridley Scott, who had just finished “Blade Runner,” cost nearly $1 million to make, a huge sum for the fledgling computer company. The concept was brainchild of legendary ad man and TBWA/MediaArts chairman Lee Clow, who remembers Apple co-founder Steve Jobs didn’t get involved in the story or the casting. Rather, he just said, “go make it great.”

But “1984” almost didn’t make it on TV at all. In an interview with Advertising Age, Mr. Clow explains why and also why you may never see an ad like it again.

In addition, we’ve interviewed Bryan Buckley, one of the most prolific and clever Super Bowl commercial directors of all time with 42 spots to his name since 1999. Mr. Buckley is responsible for dozens of modern classics that make you laugh with brands like FedEx, Bud Light, Pepsi and many others.

Both interviews are part of a series created for Hulu, “The Art of the Super Bowl Ad,” with the stories behind some of the best Super Bowl ads in history. We hope you enjoy them as you get ready to watch the big game—and the ads in between.

on by in Advertising

More than a game, the Super Bowl is a cultural event, a truly American spectacle, and the ads are very much a part of the experience. Mix a big stage with big ambitions and budgets, and what you get are some memorable ads, as well some memorable misfires — not unlike the game itself. The best will make you laugh, think, or even feel something, whether it’s the warmth of Volkswagen’s “The Force” spot from 2011 or the emotion rendered in text by Google’s “Parisian Love” in 2010.

As you read this, directors of this year’s ads are putting the finishing touches on their work, some tinkering until the very last minute. Some ads will be veiled in secrecy until the second they appear on air; others will be released on the web early to generate buzz before the game. All will represent the brand’s best effort to connect with the public and to tell a story in 15, 30 or 60 seconds.

For advertisers, the stakes are high; this is their “Super Bowl,” too. With more than 110 million viewers in the U.S. alone, its the biggest TV audience of the year and they pay dearly for the privilege to reach them: $3.5 million for 30 precious seconds of air time.

While the hilarious gag is a mainstay of Super Bowl creative, last year we saw the pendulum start to swing back to ads that tell a story. This isn’t exactly a new trend: the two best Super Bowl ads of all time, Apple’s “1984” and Coke’s 1980 “Mean Joe Green” conveyed a narrative, which made them memorable. Last year, Chrysler took it further, airing a 2-minute mini-movie “Imported from Detroit,” which reintroduced the brand, and Detroit, to an audience that hadn’t thought much about either in a while. This year, expect more of the same. “You’re going to see the art form of storytelling take on a greater role in the Super Bowl,” NBC Sports advertising sales chief Seth Winter told Ad Age.

Here at Ad Age, we appreciate the art and science of advertising, whether it’s Clydesdale’s playing football or a bunch of guys who just had to say, “wassup.”  To get you ready for the Big Game, we dug through the archives of Super Bowls past and partnered with Hulu to bring you the best ads of all time. We’ll be adding “Behind The Work” videos in the coming days that tell the story behind some of the greatest of the past 50 years.

Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in comments. And if you’d like to read more about the business behind the Super Bowl, you can visit us at AdAge.com.