Hulu has whipped up an unsettling ad for Super Bowl viewers for a second year.
After last year’s Big Game spot for The Handmaid’s Tale, which gave audiences their first look at Elisabeth Moss enduring a dystopian nightmare, Hulu is back at it again Sunday with a creepy ad for its upcoming Stephen King-inspired anthology series, Castle Rock.
The 30-second spot, which will air at the end of the second quarter as the game heads into halftime, will offer an eerie glimpse into Castle Rock, which is set in the fictional Maine town that appears in many of King’s books. The series pulls from characters and locations that have appeared in several of King’s best-known works, including Shawshank prison, which is referenced in the spot.
The ad features Castle Rock stars André Holland (from last year’s Oscar-winning Moonlight), Scott Glenn, Jane Levy and Melanie Lynskey as well as a pair of actors who have each starred in a hit film based on one of King’s novels: Sissy Spacek (Carrie) and Bill Skarsgård (who played Pennywise in last year’s It).
While the spot offers little in the way of plot, other than the fact that Holland’s character is returning “home” to Castle Rock, it’s packed with tension and menace. At one point, Lynskey observes, “I think that something terrible is going to happen.” Counters a petrified Spacek, “It’s happening!”
While Castle Rock has a Super Bowl ad, it still doesn’t have an official premiere date beyond the “summer” time frame referenced in the spot. That makes it the second Super Bowl spot for a streaming series with a summer debut, after Amazon Prime Video’s 60-second ad for Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.
Castle Rock is executive produced by J.J. Abrams, marking the second Abrams-King collaboration for Hulu, after the 2016 miniseries 11.22.63.
During last year’s Super Bowl, Hulu kicked off its marketing campaign for The Handmaid’s Tale—which went on to win Emmy and Golden Globes for best drama series and best actress in a drama series—with its first Super Bowl ad for an original series. That ended up also becoming the first overtime ad in Super Bowl history—the New England Patriots-Atlanta Falcons game went into overtime—and Hulu was the first of four spots to run in the overtime ad pod.
Last week, Hulu confirmed it would return to the Super Bowl for the second straight year but provided no details about whether the spot would be focused on a particular show like last year’s Handmaid’s Tale ad, or more of a brand-focused spot as was the case with its first two Super Bowl campaigns: 2009’s “Alec in Huluwood” starring Alec Baldwin and 2012’s “An Evil(er) Plot to Destroy the World” starring Will Arnett.
In November, Hulu picked Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which created its 2009 and 2012 Super Bowl spots, to run its forthcoming brand campaign, but the agency did not work on the Castle Rock ad, which Hulu created in-house.