Zenith wins Hulu’s U.S. media account, expanding Disney relationship

credit: Hulu
credit: Hulu

The account was transitioned from incumbent UM without a review.

Hulu is placing its U.S. media planning and buying account in the hands of Zenith, Campaign US has learned.

The account, which has previously been held by UM since 2016, was shifted over to Zenith without a formal review. The transition is expected to be completed in early 2021.

Publicis declined to comment. Hulu did not reply to comment in time for publication.

For Publicis, winning Hulu marks another step toward consolidating various aspects of the $3 billion Disney account under Zenith, which was named media AOR for the entertainment giant’s parks and Disney+ business last October. 

At the time, Campaign US reported that Disney was attracted to Zenith’s offering with Epsilon, the database marketing company Publicis acquired for $4 billion in the spring of 2019. The teams won the pitch with a bespoke solution, called “Publicis Imagine,” that was led by Zenith and Epsilon’s data offering.

In that same pitch, Omnicom won the media accounts for Disney’s cable channels, (including ABC, FOX, Nat Geo) and studios (Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Animation) in North America.

Disney acquired a majority stake in Hulu in May 2019 when it bought out Comcast’s minority share in the platform, taking operational control of the company. Disney will have full ownership of Hulu in 2024.

The entertainment giant is doubling down on streaming as its parks and movies business suffer during the pandemic, and as streaming continues to take off. Disney laid off 28,000 employees, mostly from its theme parks, in September as a result of changes to its business during the pandemic. 

At an investor event last week, Disney said Disney+ now has almost 87 million subscribers and plans to hit between 230 and 260 million subscribers by 2024, sending its stock to a record high of $175.72 per share.

Disney has been slowly tying together its various streaming products, including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ under central leadership since last year. Hulu’s ad sales chief Peter Naylor left the company for Snap in May, and in October, Disney announced a massive reorganization that put streaming at the center of its business ambitions for the future.

Disney’s centralization strategy clearly extends to its agency partners, as it moves the Hulu brand under the purview of Zenith. Hulu’s U.S. media account is worth $175 million, per COMvergence.

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