Picture the scene. You’ve spent an otherwise unremarkable day dutifully going about your business, but suddenly hear news that stops you in your tracks. That’s right: there’s new episodes of your favourite TV series available to watch. Previously simple tasks become intimidating mountains to climb as you struggle to take your mind off the tantalisingly fresh entertainment waiting for you at home and - worst of all - the thought that your friends might chew through it all before you do.
The ideal solution, of course, would be a magical force that transports you directly onto your sofa/bed/TV-watching station of choice. It would, needless to say, be strong enough to catapult you through the clouds as you stop at nothing to ensure quick consumption of the new content. Is that really too much to ask?
While such a powerful force might not be a reality just yet, it forms the basis of Caviar director Cloé Bailly’s eye-catching latest work for Hulu. The arresting films play on that feeling of intense need to get in front of a screen when you know there’s an amazing new show to watch, and the result is a vibrant and memorable campaign. To go behind the scenes and discover how it all came together, we spoke to Cloé and Hulu’s Michael Schneider, VP of Brand, Live and Licensed Marketing…
Above: Hulu’s latest campaign sees TV-lovers excited to watch the latest Hulu-exclusive series as soon as (in)humanly possible.
Q> First things first - what was the original brief for this campaign, and how did it evolve into the finished film?
Michael> This specific spot is the second in our “Time to Have Hulu” campaign, and was particularly important because it was the first brand spot focused on Hulu Originals that we’ve created in years. We know Hulu subscribers have a greater affinity for the brand when they know we have shows they can only watch on Hulu like Only Murders in the Building, The Handmaid’s Tale and Pen15, so our brief challenged our partners to show the breadth and depth of our Originals library in a fun way that only the Hulu brand could tell.
Cloé> That moment of realising an original new show is available right that second is a super urging feeling: it just makes you want to stop what you’re doing to start binge-ing it. So, the guys at Hulu thought of this powerful magnetic force that defies the laws of physics (or at least those we know about - who can say what’s going on in that damn Hadron Collider!). A force that can whisk people away - even if it means flying through walls, billboards, glass, and many other things in between… It was super fun for me to think of the best textures and most unexpected stuff characters would fly through, to find the most interesting situations they could be extracted from, to determine their position (mostly « ass first). The amazing creative team at Hulu was super trustworthy and open to my creative suggestions which made the process very playful, collaborative and quite hilarious.
Q> The unique and playful tone of these ads make the campaign pretty memorable! What was the process like of settling on the right tone, and how did you know when you’d got it right?
Cloé> Thanks! Yeah, this is ‘big comedy’ - and look, I like subtle humour as much as the next person but sometimes you just need to go big. I think we settled straight away on this absurd kind of tone, at least that’s what I proposed in my treatment. I didn’t want this film to be only about the 'wow' destruction and flinging effects. We all really wanted to add an extra quirky layer, an absurd kind of tone. No matter how big the delivery is, it’s the small stuff that makes the big stuff work.
Q> And what’s the secret to maintaining that ‘absurd’ tone while creating something that’s relatable to your audience?
Cloé> You need to constantly be aware of the juxtaposition between the spectacularly large gags and the small details. It’s a yin/yang situation - surrealism lands most powerfully when you lay the bonkerballs stuff on top of everyday mundanity. This applies to everything from the casting choices to the performances, to the practical and digitally enhanced FX, and the styling, art direction, cinematography, editing and music.
Q> Michael, how did you guys work with Caviar and Cloé to bring this spot to life?
Michael> Both Caviar and Cloé were amazing partners throughout the entire creative process! In all honesty, we’ve wanted to work with Cloé for a long time and her vision and creative process did not disappoint.
Additionally, the sets built by the Caviar team were absolutely stunning and ultimately allowed us to produce a really memorable visual piece of work.
Q> The casting in this ad is superb - how did you guys know you were going to nail it, and what were you looking for?
Cloé> There was one thing I was especially keen for us to get right, and that was the moment just before the character has just been told a new series is available to watch on Hulu. I didn’t want it to feel like they were totally in control of that feeling, like it was at least partly a subconscious thing that took them by surprise.
Casting and directing actors really is my favourite part of the process, and it’s a fine magical chemistry that I’m always looking for. A perfect mix between talent, effortlessness, charisma, wit, spontaneity, a sense of comedy (whether it’s intentional or not) and an interesting physique. In an ad, there’s such little time. You need memorable actors to make each scene stand out.
Q> This is such a fun ad to watch, with lots of cool VFX going on. Were there any challenges in bringing it to life?
Michael> There are always a lot of challenges when you’re working on a spot that includes lots of stunts, set changes and visual effects. For instance, the choice of camera (Motion Control was needed for the first scene, for instance) requires a loooot of shoot time and gives a certain theatrical tone to the piece. You need to integrate the technicality to the narration (and to the production of course).
Cloé> The other main challenge was creative. I wanted the VFX (created by the wonderful guys at JAMM, who were fantastic advisors) that would convey this absurd sense of humour and not just be spectacular. For instance, when the girl is ejected out of her car, bumps into a traffic light and goes through a Hulu billboard, the creative challenge was to keep the VFX cartoonish - they needed to bring an extra layer of comedy.
Q> Finally, I understand that this campaign was tied to the Olympics - can you tell us more about that?
Michael> Yes, the 30-second spot premiered for the first time during the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremonies and helped us to reach the coveted sports demographic. But, given that it’s the Olympics, it also helped us tap into a more general audience that we knew would be receptive to our Originals-themed creative.