The Perfect GIF


This past holiday season, Hulu wanted to do something special for TV fans around the world. As the agency responsible for managing Hulu's social presence, we were eager to help. Their goal was to bottle the magic of the holidays and promote awareness of the wide variety of shows Hulu has to offer. Using these guidelines, we were determined to create a useful and innovative experience unlike any other.

The Idea

GIFs have become the internet's ultimate mode of expression, and people have a lot to express around the holidays. With an entire library of new and classic shows at its fingertips, Hulu was in a unique position to offer its audience a treasure trove of legally licensed content. With the potential to make so many GIFs, we were confident that we could offer up the perfect GIF for any situation. We were so confident, in fact, that we committed ourselves to creating a sophisticated 'Perfect GIF Generator' that would pair users' tweets with a fitting TV GIF.

The Execution

We recruited and trained an army of GIF makers who combed through Hulu's offerings night and day to capture GIFs that TV fans would love. At the same time, we worked to develop a sophisticated taxonomy of holiday related keywords and synonyms. When the site launched, users were invited to share their feelings about the holidays (good or bad) in 140 characters or less. As users typed, a predictive text engine scanned each message in real time and searched a massive library of TV moments to find the GIF that typified their sentiment.

To power the experience, we used a natural language processing engine to look beyond words and use concepts, emotions and topics to match a user's post against a database with thousands of GIFs from a wide swath of shows. This first-of-its-kind application of this type of technology allowed us to create an experience that felt like it was powered by elves. In case the user wasn't completely satisfied with our top recommended GIF, we provided an ordered list of alternatives as well as additional filtering capabilities. For users with writers block, we created a 'write it for me' button to pre-populate the text field with one of many pre-written messages. Once the users found their perfect GIF, they had the option of either downloading or sharing it via Twitter, Tumblr or email.

Beyond paid media and email blasts to Hulu's subscriber base, we drove awareness for the campaign by setting up an extensive listening program and surprising users who were talking about why they love or hate the holidays with perfectly matched GIFs. Our one-on-one interactions with customers were very well received, with many professing their love of the brand and committing to continued use of the service.

Measuring Success

The results were overwhelmingly positive both from a qualitative and quantitative standpoint. Fans of Hulu loved the way the GIFs echoed their holiday sentiments, as if by magic. The increased word of mouth and exposure that the campaign drove contributed to 52% more impressions and 43% more shares compared to the same time period in the previous year.

The depth of Hulu's catalog of content has been a competitive advantage for years, but many consumers still weren't familiar with just how much content Hulu has. The Perfect GIF campaign swung the doors wide open, revealing GIFs from a staggering number of shows simultaneously. Our extensive GIF library represented over 70 different TV shows. By the end of the campaign, social posts from the site garnered over 15k content shares, which contributed to 23 million social impressions and even a few "Hulu gets me" tweets. We successfully tapped into pre-existing consumer behaviors and developed an experience that was equal parts entertainment and social utility.

Can't Say Goodbye

The Perfect GIF campaign was considered such a resounding success that Hulu asked us to create an evergreen version of the site, centering around the extensive GIF library our team produced. The simplified second incarnation of the site has shed the text entry field, and focuses on an expanded taxonomy of GIFs, ready to be shared or inserted into any conversation. The site currently includes over 2,000 GIFs from 84 different shows, with additional GIFs added daily. TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, and Refinery 29 have all written about The Perfect GIF, but you can see it for yourself at