Several weeks ago, reality show host (and fanatic) Chrissy Teigen hosted a star-studded party at her house as part of a new Hulu campaign, which highlights the reality programming available on the streaming service. The various reality show personalities in attendance wasted no time before they started causing on-screen drama.
As expected, cast members from Bravo series like The Real Housewives, Below Deck and Vanderpump Rules promptly began feuding in a way befitting to their reality show roots. In one spot from the campaign, Kyle Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills ordered a celery juice from who she thinks is the bartender, but is actually Vanderpump Rules’ Jax Taylor.
In the same spot, Kate Chastain and Captain Lee from nautical reality series Below Deck are taken aback after Southern Charm’s Patricia Altschul, accompanied by her butler Michael Kelcourse, mistakes Captain Lee for Chastain’s hired help.
The spot, which premiered this week, is shot to mimic reality show production styles, even cutting to a confessional-style interview with Lee and Kelcourse at the end of the spot. It’s part of a series of ads that Hulu will push out on digital, social, out-of-home and television through 2020 to promote Hulu’s library of reality programming, which include past seasons of popular Bravo series and new episodes that become available on the service a day after they air on linear.
The spots are intended to appeal to ardent fans of all tastes, said Nick Tran, Hulu’s vp and head of brand marketing.
“Reality TV, as you can imagine, is a lot broader than most people realize,” Tran said. “Everyone has it as a guilty pleasure, but we knew that the awareness of that on Hulu—or any streaming platform, for that matter—wasn’t that big.”
“Given that we are a place where you can get all your favorite reality TV in one place, we thought that we would own that message and let everyone know that this is really the home of reality TV,” he continued. “So we created a reality commercial about reality TV using reality stars at a real party hosted by a reality fan.”
Teigen, Adweek’s 2019 Brand Visionary, partnered with Hulu this year for a series of ads and promotions, including offering half off to new Hulu subscribers signing up for an ad-supported subscription. Tran said the party, which was teased in a spot with Teigen that highlights fall television stars on the service, was done at the model’s insistence.
“It was her idea to bring everybody to her house,” Tran explained. “That wasn’t something that was manufactured. We actually preferred to shoot it at a separate location, but she was honestly insistent because she was such a big fan.”
Pulling off the party required Hulu to work with cable and broadcast networks of all kinds, and it also required Hulu to get a sign-off from Teigen’s husband, musician John Legend.
“I remember asking him, ‘Are you OK if we do this crazy, elaborate shoot with all of these reality stars in your house?'” Tran recalled. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds like fun,’ which is really the spirit of this campaign: that reality TV is fun. It’s meant to be enjoyed.”
Content shot during the party, including photos from a photo booth set up at the party and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the ads, will roll out on digital, social and OOH in the coming weeks. People like The Bachelor host Chris Harrison, 90 Day Fiancé cast member Darcey Silva and MasterChef judge Aarón Sánchez will make appearances, as will the contestant The Fox from The Masked Singer. (The Bachelor airs on ABC, 90 Day Fiancé airs on TLC and Discovery and MasterChef and The Masked Singer air on Fox.)
The spot featuring Bravo show talent will run on the linear channel, and Hulu will advertise on radio and podcasts that center on reality show recaps and discussions, Tran said.
The ad campaign, which was created by Hulu’s agency Big Family Table, is an extension of an effort from Hulu to emphasize the breadth of the service’s library and programming offerings. The “Hulu Sellouts” campaign, which kicked off in February, has featured professional sports stars who are cashing in to promote Hulu’s live sports programming offering.
“We recognized that there was an opportunity to go broader beyond just live sports and talk about all the other things that people may not know that Hulu has an extensive library for,” Tran said.
Hulu’s campaign is rolling out in the wake of BravoCon, a three-day-long convention featuring reality cast members and brand activations for reality TV’s most devoted fans. The timing, though, wasn’t intentional; instead, it was a bit of good fortune, Tran said.
“We’ve been planning this for quite some time, but every once in awhile, stars just align and it all works out,” Tran said. “That was actually coincidental.”