Upfront and Personal
My journey into the world of advertising upfronts continued this year. I’ve already recounted the story of the Scripps upfront where I made it seem like I was a crazy person to one of their top talents. The next two I attended were very different. The first was for Hulu and the second was for Adult Swim.
I was excited for the Hulu presentation because I’m a big fan of the brand. They’re basically my cable provider now. I’m sure that Cablevision and other MSOs aren’t happy to hear that but I get all the TV entertainment I want, when I want it, from Hulu and Hulu Plus. The event was very laid back and much more relaxed than the Scripps upfront. While they talked about the new shows that they had coming up, it was more about how Hulu is changing the TV landscape which was far more interesting. As a cable cord cutter, I’m fascinated by how things like online and mobile video are changing the way we consume media. Appointment viewing is dying.
Anyway, they showed off the Hulu Plus integration with Xbox Kinect which should be coming up soon and now I really want to get a Kinect just so I can use it and feel like I’m in the future. After the presentation was over, the 88s performed while an impressive spread of food was served. I’m talking little grilled cheeses, tacos, and mini cheeseburgers. Very cool. Overall great experience.
A few weeks later I went to the Adult Swim upfront. I was hesitant about going to this one because it was from 9 PM to 1 AM on a Wednesday in the city. I don’t like to go anywhere, especially late at night because I’m an old person that likes to go to bed at a reasonable hour after having a glass of warm milk. My colleague, Rob convinced me to go, explaining that if you only go to one upfront, this is the one to go to. Plus they had Jay-Z as a musical guest. That’s big, right?
After a brief pre-party, we filed into the Roseland Ballroom and waited…and waited. We stood around and chatted for about two hours. There were some appetizers making the rounds, the most notable of which was some spaghetti and meatballs on a little fork. There is a plus here though. I got to meet Seth Green. He was just walking by and we went up to him and chatted for a bit. He seems like a generally nice guy. I didn’t figure out that my flash was completely turned off until after the fact, but hey, I got a picture with him. That was cool.
Also, the whole theme for this event was owls. They were everywhere. There were two huge owls shooting lasers out of their eyes. There was a guy in a big creepy owl suit operating an egg contraption at the door. Seriously, owls everywhere.
After standing and waiting for awhile, the presentation finally began, if you can call it that. There was an epic 120 second countdown while “The Final Countdown” blared from the speakers. Then the briefest and least pretentious reel was played where Adult Swim showed some of their programs and didn’t hide the fact that they invited everyone here for one reason and one reason only: They want our money. That’s what these things are all about but I’m just glad that someone had the balls to admit it.
After the video was over a 10 minute countdown came up on the screen. It was then that they stopped using the speakers that were playing the loud background music and started using the speakers that they’d be using for the performance. These were about 5 times louder and located about 10 feet away from me. After what felt like forever, the countdown reached zero and the show began. Jay-Z came on stage and started performing. He was ridiculously close, not that I could see him clearly with the wave of cellphone cameras that shot into the air. Up until this point, the only Jay-Z songs I had heard were part of DJ Danger Mouse’s fantastic Grey Album that mixed the rapper’s Black Album with the Beatles’ White Album. I’ve learned that most of Jay-Z’s songs have a very different feel to them outside of this album. As a result he would get halfway through a song before I realized I had heard it before.
The crowd went completely ape-shit too. Where I had a bit of breathing room before the show started, I was now cramped like a sardine. Jay-Z often yelled “Put your hands up!” and I attempted to awkwardly do so but could barely bend my elbow, let alone raise my entire arm. He played for at least an hour before I decided to call it a night around 12:15. I made my way downstairs to pick up my bag from the coat check and my ears were ringing like crazy. They continued to ring well into the next day but it was totally worth it. Amazing upfront, and like I said, they didn’t hide the fact that they just want my money. That’s great.