I have watched Hulu’s coming- out party ad (see here) several times, both live during the heartbreaking SB 43 (yes, I live in Arizona) and then online where it will live forever to be cheered, jeered and even possibly revered. As someone who has followed Hulu since before this forward-thinking online venture between NBC and Fox (and a few major investors) even had a name, I am still waiting to “get it.” Proclaiming Hulu as “an evil plot to destroy the world” while poking fun of television’s inherent narcotizing property doesn’t speak to any of Hulu’s core benefits such as catch-up TV and the furthering of the consumer-in-control social media evolution. I am still wondering who Alec Baldwin was speaking to in the commercial: young viewers who already know about Hulu and probably laughed it all; older viewers who wonder what the heck Baldwin was talking about or all of those folks in-between who are more concerned with the state of the economy than being able to watch reruns of “MacGyver” on their PCs.
What makes me doubly perplexed is that 2009 will be a crucial year for Hulu as it faces the YouTube juggernaut in a race for online TV audiences and ad dollars. In the past several months, YouTube has made efforts to rid itself of inappropriate and unauthorized copyrighted content and improved its viewing experience by offering HD content. Hulu should have taken the time and money simply telling the world it is better than YouTube. Curiously, this raises the interesting juxtapositions of mantras as Google (YouTube’s parent) proclaims “don’t do evil” while Hulu sneeringly says it’s an evil plot.
I admit I often am in the dark as to the intent or goal of both networking programming as well as TV ads. My sense here is that the brains behind this spot was the same person (or persons) who believed a weekly eponymous sitcom starring Emeril Lagasse would be a winner.
Note: Sorry: The Hulu ad is not viewable outside the U.S.