Hulu has an adorable answer to the holiday programming seen on other streaming platforms. While Netflix is breaking into the Hallmark-style movie business, and Amazon is testing the live coverage waters with its New Year’s Day special, Hulu is bringing viewers puppies.
The streaming service has literally unleashed the hounds for the holidays with “Puppies Crash Christmas,” the latest in a series of holiday scenics that are entertaining yet still soothing alternatives to the traditional “Yule Log” program showing a burning log in the fireplace. “Puppies Crash Christmas” joins the suite of Streaming Wonderland scenics that Hulu debuted last year that included such gems as “Gingerbread Home Remodel” (a gingerbread house is systematically consumed at a Christmas party), “Stuck Santa” (the jolly one is stuck in a chimney), and “A Sap Story” (sap drips from a tree).
“Qualitatively, we got a lot of really great response from a number of subscribers with whom we conducted research over that period of time,” said director of brand marketing Michael Schneider (no relation to IndieWire’s own Michael Schneider, that we’re aware of) in an interview with IndieWire. “‘Gingerbread Home Remodel’…saw well over three million views during that time period. It was the first year that we did something special around the holiday time, and we’re really pleased with the way it performed.”
Thoughts for a follow-up to the Streaming Wonderland suite began at the beginning of the year, but “Puppies Crash Christmas” was a no-brainer.
“It was an initial idea that we were presented with along with a number of others I’d say six to eight months ago,” said Schneider. “At a certain point, despite all the great ideas that were thrown about, this was one that just seemed right to us. Why not just have puppies or really cute animals in a Christmas scene? When you’re with family or with friends around the holidays, and you turn on ‘The Yule Log,’ or something you can just have on when everyone’s over there, why not a number of cute puppies running around? It seemed like a perfect fit.”
Here’s a sneak peek of “Puppies Crash Christmas”:
“During the holiday season, a lot of competition is out there doing a lot of creative things on channels to give back to their subscribers and to try and keep everyone engaged during the holiday season,” added Schneider. “A lot of people watch TV during the holidays with friends, with family. The TV is always on, so why not make it a little fun and really celebrate the holiday season in a unique way with a bit of a different spin on it from the competitor? Given the success that we saw last year, we really wanted to do something a bit different but keep the same spirit of it this year. Puppies are something we certainly think and hope that everyone will find incredibly cute and put on while they’re at the table or while friends and family are over. That’s something only Hulu can provide.”
Behind the Scenes
“We shot everything in a day up in a studio in San Francisco. It was a 12-hour session,” said Schneider. “The puppies were amazing to work with. There was obviously a lot of lead-up with pre-production, but we shot everything in a day to make it as easy for the cast as possible.”
Clocking in at about 33 minutes, “Puppies Crash Christmas” features a range of puppers — a Pomeranian, a beagle, a West Highland terrier, a husky, and more — creating absolute doggo destruction around the Christmas tree and at the dining table. No gift is left unscathed or food left untasted. In fact, the so-called credits to the scenic pay cheeky tribute to all that was sacrificed to the puppies’ choppers (plus a bonus Hulu tribute to TV at the end).
All the puppies are rescues that are in the process of being adopted. To ensure their well-being and that the proper precautions were taken, Hulu had a PETA representative on site as well.
While everyone can pick their own MVP (Most Valuable Puppy), Schneider highlights one to look out for. “The brand team sits together, and we’ve had it on a loop pretty much since it came in a couple of days ago,” he said. “There’s this basset hound, which wreaks havoc and then passes out for about 20 minutes. It’s the most fantastic character ever. We put the basset hound photo in many areas of the office.”
Depending on how well subscribers like “Puppies Crash Christmas,” Schneider said more scenics would be “something we’re going to look to continue to evolve.”
Evolve, as in possibly open up the field to the feline kind?
“We already have thought about doing something similar for next year, and cats are certainly in the conversation,” Schneider confirmed. “We stuck with puppies just because frankly there are more puppy owners on the team than we thought. So internally, we thought wreaking havoc around your traditional holiday setting, that puppies can do it more dramatically, but cats certainly on the table for next year.”
Cats on the table? We can’t wait to see them push Santa and all his reindeer off. Until then…
“Puppies Crash Christmas” and seven other holiday Streaming Wonderland scenics are now available on Hulu.