Cultural themes that drive FOX Broadcasting’s marketing in 2016


Angela Courtin is EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at FOX Broadcasting.

In today’s convergent world, technology impacts every aspect of how we reach our audiences – everything from the when to the where. Despite the inhuman quality of technology, the data it yields provides us greater visibility into the very human elements of our audiences’ lives and, most importantly, their hearts. This is where the battle for attention is really fought and we win when our audience moves from a collection of rating points to a collection of fans.

The battlefield is simply culture. We therefore must operate at the speed of it –understanding the what’s and the why’s. Storytelling mirrors what is happening in culture and is also a predictor for what might lie ahead. As a marketer, we must take our cues from culture to adapt our thinking to better inform our campaigns.

After partnering with a cultural anthropologist to explore what themes are resonating the loudest for our industry, we landed on the following cultural themes to embrace in our day-to-day work: changing power structures, technology and human difference.

Changing power structures

Changing power structures is inextricably linked to technological change and its championing of the decentralization of information. It can be attributed to decreased religiosity, which leads to moral complexity (as opposed to the traditional binary good vs. evil). In this moral complexity has risen the anti-hero, a persistent theme in storytelling. It brings forth discussions of survival at any cost, wealth creation and distribution, communal vs. structured governance, etc.

Marketing shows that touch on these themes must strike a balance of morality, humility, power and judgment, as seen in “Lucifer,” “Wayward Pines” and “Empire.” For Lucifer, we used a combination of technology and pithy quips to dynamically respond to cultural events from the State of the Union to the Oscars nominations, sporting events to political debates. We did this across social platforms like YouTube and Twitter and on digital billboards in Times Square.


“Marketing shows that touch on these themes must strike a balance of morality, humility, power and judgment, as seen in ‘Lucifer,’ ‘Wayward Pines’ and ‘Empire.'” – Angela Courtin



Technology is an obvious one. We experience how mobility, access and social exchange influence our lives on a daily basis. The way in which our content is consumed forces us to explore the idea of “brand.” Is our brand a collection of smaller brands (our individual intellectual property), and how does that ladder up to our parent brand (network)?

We are also trying to keep up with the speed at which our audiences are reporting on their experiences with our content. While reviews by professionals are still important, our fans are telling each other and us what’s working instantaneously. How are we harnessing that exchange to socialize the best content dynamically in our marketing to increase consumption across platforms and windows?

Human difference

The theme of human difference impacts the very fundamentals of marketing. We’ve always targeted people by age, sex and race; in today’s world, where ideas of gender and race are more fluid, we have to really understand why specific types of people are drawn to specific types of content, and then identify patterns from those connections.

We sometimes call this psychographic or mindset profiling, but it’s essentially a manifestation of identity – whom we believe ourselves to be. If we combine this with technology and data, we begin to build communities of fans that can be found in discrete environments and reach them with individual messages.

Different roles, same goal

Marketing has traditionally been a discipline that is part art, part strategy. We interpret the language of culture to create messages that resonate. In order to do that more effectively in today’s world, our role has evolved to include technologist, anthropologist, data analyst and community scientist.

But the goal remains the same: connecting audiences to our content at scale.