Here’s what’s well-known about Hulu and ads. 1) It supports itself with the stuff. 2) Sometimes it stars in its own ads.

Less known: Hulu creates advertisements for its own advertisers.

ING Direct, the personal investment arm of financial giant ING, began a monthlong ad deal with Hulu this week. There are many moving pieces to the deal, but the centerpiece is a 15-second spot that is airing across the site. It features ING Direct’s logo, an orange ball, that bounces down a hallway. There it comes across a flat-lined EKG monitor. It touches the monitor and the patient’s heartrate suddenly returns to normal as a Batman-esque “Save” action bubble floats next to the EKG reading. Later, the ball does the same to a burning stovetop, containing the fire and rescuing the kitchen. As the ad closes it flashes the company’s slogan: “Rescue your savings.”

That spot was created by Hulu. ING wanted to use a unique ad that hadn’t been seen on TV, and one that tied into the shows it would be advertising against. They figured Hulu was the best firm for the job. The ad is supposed to evoke Grey’s Anatomy and Kitchen Nightmares, two of the shows it runs alongside.

Along with the traditional spot is a quirky collection of Hulu shows that all have to do with “saving” something—saving a life (Grey’s Anatomy), saving a kitchen (Kitchen Nightmares), saving the day (Human Target), etc. ING’s marketing director, John Owens, told Hulucination that the campaign’s goal is to convey “relevance.” ING hopes that linking the spots to Hulu’s saviors will help viewers better recall the brand. What will also help: prime position on Hulu’s homepage every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Many content publishers lend a hand with the creation of ads. Yet this kind of packaging frames programming in a way that is unique to Hulu. It’s still advertising, certainly, but it’s wedded to a wealth of content that can heighten the ad’s purpose. ING provides the message—savings—and Hulu provides the manpower that collects content to fit with it. On most other video sites, ING would have just gotten a pre-roll ad and maybe a companion banner advertisement. But Hulu’s library is large enough that it can lend what is essentially a version of a product placement. ING may not be in the show, but it is an element of watching it.

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