Ryan Crosby on Hulu's Creative Work and the Rise of Social in Entertainment Marketing

Plus, his favorite movies, TV shows and more

Ryan Crosby is vp of marketing at Hulu, leading a team responsible for marketing efforts across the company's brand, B2B, on-demand and live TV businesses. He also oversees Hulu's consumer research and internal creative studio to ensure the strategic approach, creative vision and brand voice are reflected in every aspect of the Hulu experience.

Under Crosby's oversight, Hulu launched the "Hulu Sellouts" campaign, which embraced transparency in influencer marketing. He has also served as a key member of the content marketing team, helping to develop and set the marketing strategy for award-winning Hulu Originals including Little Fires Everywhere, The Handmaid's Tale, Ramy, Normal People and others. 

Prior to joining Hulu in 2018, Crosby served as director of global creative marketing at Netflix. He joined Netflix from Activision Blizzard. Prior to that, he held senior marketing roles at Xbox and advertising agencies TBWA\Chiat\Day and Wieden + Kennedy.

We spoke with Ryan for our Q&A series Backstory, where we chat with folks in the entertainment industry about their creative inspirations, favorite entertainment properties, and more.

Ryan, tell us ... 

Your first job in the industry.

If you define entertainment broadly to include video games, my first job was global advertising manager at Xbox. That kicked off a long stint in gaming, including time at Activision Blizzard, before I shifted to more "traditional" entertainment when I moved to Netflix as director of global creative marketing.

A breakthrough moment in your career.

One of my breakthrough moments was in 2008, when I shifted my focus from strictly advertising to product and franchise management. That move put me in charge of the Halo franchise along with its P&L, and allowed me an opportunity to develop the strategic and business acumen required to market a product in today's world. It broadened my scope and opened my eyes to all aspects of marketing beyond my strictly creative marketing background.

Three movies you couldn't do without.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Nostalgia. It was the film that most reminds me of my childhood and made me fall in love with storytelling.

Elf. It's my holiday classic, and I watch it every holiday season.

Goodfellas. I love the action, cast and directing. It was everything you want in a gangster film.

Your favorite movie quote.

"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley." —Airplane!

Your favorite movie trailer or poster.

I love the iconic Baby Driver poster that does not feature the characters. Simple, beautiful, eye-catching and told me everything I needed to know. 

A classic TV show and a recent TV show that you loved.

Classic: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Recent: Breaking Bad.

A recent project you're proud of.

During the Super Bowl this year, we partnered with Tom Brady to tease some very big news: Hulu has more than just live sports. I'm proud of this work because we extended our successful "Hulu Has Live Sports" campaign in a really fun and interesting way. We knew that Tom's potential retirement or possible move to another team would be a major storyline even if he wasn't playing in the game. So, we creatively leaned into that buzz and worked with Tom on a cryptic social post that drove a ton of social and press chatter and then revealed the answer during the big game with a 30-second ad spot.

Tom Brady's Big Announcement • Hulu • Extended Cut
Someone else's project that you admired recently.

I loved the creative work that FX did for their show Dave. The art was fantastic, and they introduced the show about a rapper with a music video (of course you would).

DAVE | Season 1: I’m DAVE Teaser - Starring Lil Dicky | FXX
One thing about how entertainment marketing is evolving that you're excited about.

I'm excited that the focus is moving away from the more traditional mediums and toward the social space. Fandom is the engine that drives interest in content and brands, so I think the industry is figuring out how to best drive those discussions through more nontraditional methods.

What would you be doing if you weren't in entertainment marketing.

I'd find a job in marketing somewhere, because that's what I love. If it couldn't be in entertainment, I'd look for a job in the sports world.

Backstory is a new interview series where we chat with folks in the entertainment world about their creative inspirations, their favorite movies, trailers, posters and more. For more about Backstory, please contact Jessie Garretson.

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