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Advertising NBA Hulu

Ads We Like: NBA athletes 'sell out' to Hulu for the cash, highlighting brand transparency trends


By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

February 15, 2019 | 5 min read

A couple of the NBA’s biggest stars are blatant about their love of sponsor money in Hulu’s live sports ads starting this NBA All-Star weekend.

Joel Embiid for Hulu

Joel Embiid sells out for Hulu

Hulu is launching its ‘Hulu Sellouts’ campaign with two 30-second national TV spots starring NBA superstars Joel Embiid and Damian Lillard. Created in partnership with new IPG agency Big Family Table, the campaign celebrates the “sellouts” in admitting that the brand paid athletes to tell people Hulu has live sports.

In Portland star Lillard’s spot, we see the already tattooed player sitting in a tattoo parlor. He is preparing to get a tattoo stating “Hulu has live sports.” The artist asks if he can change the font, change the style, or have the words coming out of a dragon’s mouth. He’s nixed each time by a pair of lawyers. The tattoo artist then asks how much he’s getting paid to have the tattoos. Jump to Lillard on a Hulu set with Hulu jersey and ball with money raining down on him. He says, “Hulu has live sports.”

In 76er star Embiid’s spot, he is seen signing a basketball for a child. The signature reads “Joel ‘Hulu has live sports’ Embiid.” The man formerly known as ‘The Process’ says it’s his new nickname and tells another fan that’s legally how he has to refer to himself now. A small boy with a cast on his arm chases the player and asks why he changed his nickname. The 7-foot player leans way down to the kid’s level and says: “Money.” He then is seen in the Hulu set saying “Hulu has live sports,” counting down the times he is legally obligated to say the phrase.

A third ad will feature Giannis Antetokounmpo and will run throughout the year.

Brand transparency trends

The Hulu campaign comes at a time when many influencers are more subtle when it comes to revealing they’re getting paid to promote something, like when #ad or #sponsored is hidden at the bottom of a post. As consumers crave greater brand transparency, Hulu’s campaign is right out there.

Sprout Social’s Social Media and the Evolution of Transparency report found out a few things regarding brand transparency. One is that more than half of consumers (53%) are likely to consider brands that are transparent on social for their next purchase. However, a lack of transparency on social leaves 86% of people likely to take their business to a competitor. Also, 81% believe businesses have a responsibility to be transparent when posting on social media, which is higher than the standards they set for politicians, friends, family, or themselves. But only 15% of consumers believe that brands are currently “very transparent” on social.

According to the report, social media ranks high among the channels where people want businesses to be more transparent, with 56% of people saying they want brands to be most transparent on social — ranking it above traditional communication channels such as print ads, email, and direct mail.

Sprout Social transparency report

Sprout Social, a social media management and analytics platform for businesses, found that when brands are transparent and develop a history of transparency, nearly nine in 10 consumers are more likely to give them second chances after bad experiences.

“Hulu's 'Sellouts' campaign is further proof that brands are taking a more transparent approach to their marketing tactics and embracing the benefits this strategy has for their bottom line,” said Kristin Johnson, director, content and communications at Sprout Social. “Our data shows that more than half of consumers are likely to consider brands that are transparent on social media for their next purchase, which means the companies that are up front with their customers about influencer marketing, business practices, and even mistakes, will reap the rewards long term. A lack of transparency on social leaves 86% of people likely to take their business to a competitor – something Hulu is undoubtedly aware of and hoping to address through its most recent campaign. As the impact business transparency can have on the bottom line grows, I expect more companies to incorporate campaigns such as these into their overall strategy.”

See the spots by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

Hulu: Hulu Sellouts by Big Family Table

By Hulu

Overall Rating 4/5

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