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Hulu and The Egg: How An Egg Outfoxed A Kardashian and Went On To Win The Super Bowl, With Hulu

Photo of Georgia Meyer
by Georgia Meyer

The egg that beat Kylie Jenner for the highest number of likes on an Instagram photo partnered with Hulu to promo an ad following the Super Bowl.

Rather than ‘sell out’ for a branded message, The Egg’s (also known by fans as ‘Eugene’) first spot on Hulu (titled: S1 E1), was a message encouraging people coping with mental health issues to seek support from Mental Health America – providing the relevant links.

In an interview given in the New York Times, the three advertising executives behind Eugene explained that they ‘are less interested in money and more interested in promoting positivity’.

This is the tale of how an egg set a precedent for unpaid socially-conscious messaging and Hulu reaped the rewards.

Viral Flukes

As with any truly viral moment, the question every marketeer wants to understand the answer to is: how did this happen and how can it can be done again? In the case of Eugene the egg’s ascent on Instagram, to become the most liked photo with more than 52 million likes in a mere matter of weeks, the only predictable thing about it is: it is almost certainly not replicable.

In the New York Times interview Eugene’s creators – and now apparently, custodians – agreed with the comments of ex-Droga5 chairman, Andrew Essex, that the ‘egg event’ on Instagram was the ‘quintessential fluke’.

Looking to replicate such one-of-a-kind moments is certainly folly. The smartest brands have understood for over a decade that they have the most to gain by leveraging, not seeking to repeat, these social moments – so long as they stay true to the tone of the original conversation. That is exactly what Hulu did.

Nimble Gold

Hulu executives reached out to Eugene’s creators to work together on a plan that would see the next stage of the humble egg’s life be premiered after the Super Bowl. The fact that the big reveal, teased on social media in the preceding weeks, was a message about mental health protection was the perfect tone to strike given the ecosystem that birthed the egg in the first place.

Hulu is the insurgent brand in the live TV viewing landscape. The best impression that an insurgent brand can give is: nimble activation and progressive values. Hulu struck both chords with the speed of the execution and the tone of the big reveal.

Why Super Bowl

Even with falling viewing figures, big appointment-to-view sporting events are still valuable places for brands to play. These ad spots have always been moments for brands to articulate their values and vision.

In the era of social e-commerce – where brands can make cheaper ‘ads’ that introduce products at the same time as being the point of sale – there is even more pressure on brands to use tentpole ad spots to communicate something ‘bigger’ than commercial self-interest.

All eyes are now on how an egg called Eugene (arguably the most influential social actor in the world in early 2019) will influence brands next. If 2018 was peak political for brands and the NFL (note the 2018-19 season opened with the premier of Nike’s Kaepernick campaign), 2019 could well be peak purposeful – at least, that is what Eugene and the #Egggang may want.

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