Hulu has never been afraid to do things a bit differently. So, when it came to promoting the 2nd season of their Emmy-nominated, #1 hit comedy Only Murders in the Building, they wanted to do something unprecedented. The big idea? Promote their #1 hit comedy in the longest and least funny way possible.
With so much momentum and love coming out of Season 1, it was important to keep the massive fanbase interested, engaged and hungry for more. Most of all, we wanted to honor fans with a rewarding experience they’d want to be a part of.
Instead of creating a traditional ‘trailer’ or short-form content piece meant to tease the audience, we did the opposite. We promoted it in the longest and in what appeared to be the most uneventful way possible; an ASMR-inspired, immersive video campaign called “The Arconia Ambient Room Series.” But what seemed like simple rooms soon revealed so much more. Hidden within each 60 minute video were visual and audio clues that our fan detectives uncovered and went crazy for. By virtually placing viewers into the rooms of the beloved main characters Mabel, Oliver, and Charles, we allowed fans to act like their favorite characters, uncovering clues and working together to solve mysteries related to the show.
By understanding our true-crime fans and tapping into the central theme of the show, “ordinary people finding clues to solve crimes,” we were able to create an experience that viewers went crazy for.
We partnered with Google and the Creative Works team, who identified the growing trend and popularity of YouTube “ambient rooms.” Ambient rooms are long-form immersive videos that pair specific scenery with curated sounds and atmospheric music to make viewers feel like they’re in an actual, physical space. Traditionally designed to be soothing and uneventful, we saw an opportunity to turn the format into something quite the opposite by leaning into what we understood about the show and its fandom. What if we could create content that enhanced fans’ experience of the show, inviting them in?
We focused on the physical setting of the show for inspiration: the Arconia, a fictional, pre-war Upper West Side apartment building that features so prominently in the show, it’s built into the title itself. To honor and reward viewers, we re-created the apartments of the three main characters: Charles, Oliver, and Mabel. Each 60-minute experience included custom VO intros from Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, real SFX from the show and a room-specific score from 3x Emmy-nominated music director Siddartha Khosla. Then, we added on a layer of fan engagement via easter eggs, clues and other story elements to create a unique, virtual experience that allowed fans to experience each room in rich detail and accuracy.
The rooms were released weekly on the Hulu YouTube channel, Hulu platform and other owned socials to coincide with episodes from the show. Following each episode, fans would flock to the latest Ambient Room. The comments sections were filled with time-stamped theories and speculation as fans sought clues to the last episode’s cliffhangers and plot points. Additionally - and against common best practice - each room was promoted in its entirety (60 minutes) as skippable YouTube ads, allowing Hulu to take the rooms directly to audiences and invite them to make themselves at home, take a look around, and stay a while.
YouTube audiences spent a whopping 15-17 minutes in each Ambient Room; nearly half the length of an actual show episode and 42x the average watch time of an ad on the platform!
Fans embraced the experience, turning into detectives to map out clues and collaborate together across YouTube and social platforms. Video Retention Data shows they didn’t just watch, they dove in, immersing themselves in each room; studying, rewinding and analyzing each experience to satisfy their curiosity with the content and its connection to the show. From in-video comments to new Reddit threads and even fan-made videos, our ‘detectives’ couldn’t stop posting, postulating and predicting what might come next.
We considered our efforts a success because we accomplished exactly what we set out to do and kept our fanbase interested, engaged and hungry for more.