Does Hulu’s Advertising Intimidate Women?

Comcast is betting it does. The cable giant’s online TV portal, Fancast, believes that Hulu’s ads alienate and confuse women, and they’re planning to use their massive new ad push to tap that demographic for themselves. But is the premise flawed?

According to AdAge, Fancast’s advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners studied Hulu’s blockbuster Superbowl advertisements, and found that they weren’t adequately telling viewers exactly what online TV could actually do. Though the ads helped launch Hulu as the de-facto online TV site, Goodby thought they preached to the choir: young, computer-oriented males. The Hulu ads were created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

Said one Comcast executive of Hulu’s approach: “You have a lot of samplers in the ‘wired mom’ and ‘connected mom’ categories, but nobody had reached out to them to say, ‘Look guys, this is a consistent experience. They don’t know who Seth McFarlane is in the ad; we probably wouldn’t use aliens to market to them; and the lady from ‘Dollhouse’ could be intimidating to them.”

The “lady from Dollhouse,” Eliza Dushku, appears in this Hulu ad. (Similar ads featured Baldwin and MacFarlane.)

Intimidating? If a women like Dushku makes women shy away from experiencing Hulu, then why are so many women’s products marketed with young and beautiful (and intimidating) women? Does this Victoria’s Secret ad discourage women from buying BioFit bras?

Comcast’s ad initiative will feature CBS sitcom stars and show clipped recaps of “CSI: Miami,” “NCIS,” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Online ad buys will accompany the TV campaign. Despite the rollout, Fancast will have to combat more than just Hulu’s momentum; traditional television has its own ad offensive in the works.CD