Behind the voice: how to talk Tubi.

We spoke with our Copywriters Allan and Eva about redefining weirdness, being chronically online, six-foot-tall killer scorpions, and how all of that helped shape Tubi’s voice.

Tubi came to us for a brand that would help launch their product into the future: voice was an imperative part of that mission from day one. Tubi needed a way to bottle the peculiar personality at the heart of their brand in order to draw viewers in and keep them entertained before they’ve pressed play. Our Copy team helped Tubi define their voice and turn it into a tool as fun as it is functional. Here’s how they did it.

What were the main creative inspirations behind choosing an offbeat, approachable tone of voice for Tubi? How did these inspirations translate into actual copywriting?

Eva: Tubi’s personality isn’t entirely new; if you look at their campaigns and social media presence, they already had their own blend of humour and playfulness.

Allan: Like the 2023 Super Bowl ad.

Eva: Exactly. What they didn’t have were the tools they needed to help internal teams understand how to replicate that personality across all of their content. They’d never sat down and worked out what about their personality was unique and why it was an integral part of Tubi. 

We used the great things they’d already done as a starting point for exploring the limits of their personality, pushing them tonally until we found what felt right (and what didn’t), and then working with their copywriting and marketing teams to define it in a way that would resonate with not only their teams but also their audiences. 

Allan: Tubi is the home of every type of content you can dream of, which means there’s a lot of stuff. Which means we had to find a way to talk about everything they offer, even when there isn’t time or space to. We did that by creating a tone of voice that celebrates eccentricity with warmth, finding opportunities to give nods to current memes and humour.

Eva: And learnt things like ‘oomfie’. 

Could you describe the creative process of developing Tubi’s tone of voice? How did you experiment with language and phrasing to achieve the right level of play and wit?

Eva: Oh god, it was fun. Tubi is big on individuality, which means we basically had permission to get really weird with things right off the bat. Balancing weirdness and individuality was actually one of the key creative challenges. People still see weird as a negative, and Tubi, understandably, didn’t want to run around labelling individuality as strange or niche. 

The reason for that was twofold: for one thing, individuality is a positive and they needed to empower people to like what they like; but the reality of taste and popular content means some people love stuff that’s pretty ubiquitous. This didn’t end up going anywhere, but at one point we had an indicative bit of copy that said “turns out your weird is actually pretty vanilla.” It made all of us smile and is a pretty good example of the experimentation process for voice. We write A LOT. Some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t, but it all helps us get where we need to be. 

Allan: We ended up with a lot of short, sharp sentences to keep the viewer on their toes as they go through the brand experience and make the brand feel quippy, light, and playful. Tubi’s not afraid to point out the strangeness of their stories and lean into the innate humour of being just a little too self-aware. They always write in plain English, using colloquial sayings and fun easter-egg references without excluding anyone from the conversation.

Eva: The easter-egg research was fun. 

Allan: A lot of watching TV at work.

Eva: Yeah. Research.

How did you collaborate with Tubi’s in-house team during the tone development? What were the roles of different team members in shaping and refining the tone?

Eva: We worked closely with Seth Shamban, Tubi’s Director of Marketing Operations, and Corinne Avganim, Tubi’s Copywriter. They helped us understand which teams would be using the tone of voice guidance and what level of context they’d need in order to actually use it–not everyone who writes copy is a copywriter! 

Allan: Sometimes that meant literally going through dozens of examples, line by line, to discuss in detail why each one worked or didn’t. 

Eva: As writers, it was the absolute best. We got to nerd out about things we’re really passionate about for a couple of hours at a time, snickering about grammar puns and streaming jokes. We wrote something like 70 pieces of final copy examples together (and that’s not including any of the principles), picking apart what made each one important. 

Allan: I probably spent several dozen hours trawling social media and different forums to see how people were talking about the content they watch. The writing is only relatable when we truly understand the fans’ vocabulary and know how to use it correctly.

Eva: You aced that.

Allan: I am chronically online.

What are some of the best examples where Tubi’s tone of voice has been effectively used? Can you share specific instances from campaigns or digital interactions?

Eva: Did you hear me when I said we wrote 70 different activations? How am I supposed to choose? If an example wasn’t great, it didn’t make the cut. One of the most pivotal examples came really early on in the process, actually. I wrote a few things about taste for one of the first working sessions we had internally, and one of the lines ended up being something the client pointed to as the Tubi take on it all. It was “They’re right, you can’t buy taste: it’s free.” We turned that into all sorts of things, but it eventually stuck as a registration gate. But we also wrote examples of what not to do, and those were hilarious for obvious reasons. There was one in particular that kept making me cackle in the office whenever I’d see it in the Figma. It was a way to illustrate the fact that Tubi would never pit different pieces of content against each other, and Allan wrote this brutal line–

Oh god.

Eva: It said ‘Gotham’s on Tubi. You can finally stop watching Bat Woman.’ I’m laughing even now. 

Allan: I’m quite partial to the line, “There are sharks on the moon. And they’re absolutely shredded.” Maybe it’s because it’s a sentence that I never thought I’d write in my life, which is exactly the kind of epic weirdness that Tubi represents.

What were some of the most significant creative challenges you faced while crafting this tone of voice, and how were they overcome?

Allan: In the beginning, we explored a lot of dry humour, contrasting the sheer breadth of content with an extremely pared-back tone. 

Eva: Got to love deadpan humour. It’s actually a really great measuring stick, people either love it or hate it and it helps define what a brand is and isn’t comfortable with pretty fast. 

Allan: After a couple of rounds of workshops we realised the writing was missing the warmth that a platform hosting as many communities as Tubi would need to make everyone feel welcome. So we went back to the drawing board and made sure our humour comes from celebrating the absurdity of entertainment, not from poking fun at it.

Eva: Finding the right way to talk about taste was probably the core creative challenge in my opinion. But even that was pretty smooth sailing. Seth and Corinne were so clear about what they needed and our conversations were so collaborative, there really weren’t any major challenges. It was just a lot of fun. 

How did you ensure that the tone of voice was consistent across all brand touchpoints? Were there specific strategies or guidelines used to maintain this consistency?

Eva: I don’t think we can actually tell you what the principles are. That’s for Tubi to know and everyone else to sit back and enjoy. But yes, there is specific guidance; there’s a whole verbal identity, and that means a perspective, principles, examples–really concrete guidance around when and where to use all of it. It’s just like what we deliver for visual identity. 

Allan: This was the most comprehensive tone of voice we’ve ever created for a brand, right?

Eva: Yep. 

Allan: We provided examples at every level of brand messaging to illustrate how each principle flexes across different uses. In the guidelines, we also emphasise the importance of staying up to date with trends and leaning on relevant cultural moments without relying on them. It’s a brand that can effortlessly stay relevant without ever losing its spark of individuality.

How do you think the new voice will be perceived and help transform the Tubi experience?

Allan: Tubi’s collection of content is like no other streaming service on the market; you’re probably not going to find movies about six-foot-tall mutated killer scorpions anywhere else. It’s funny, it’s weird, and now it’s got a voice that will help it relate to its audience with as much charm as ease. There are so many bits of copy sprinkled throughout the user experience that’ll add a punch of personality to moments that are otherwise mundane, like registering for an account or reading a tweet about a new release. It’s great to see fans talking to the new Tubi on Twitter, for example, and seeing genuine delight for everything the brand has to offer.

Eva: I hope it makes people smile, even if it’s just in their heads. I hope it makes people stop and read the Tubi ads they see on the train or on their screens. But most of all, I hope it makes Tubi’s teams feel confident in their ability to express the personality behind their brand. That playful attitude has always been there; hopefully, this just means we get to see more of it.