5 Tips Luxury Marketers Can Learn From Showtime's 'Homeland'

Homeland,” Showtime’s 2012 Emmy-winning series, is a story of heroic efforts by a team of dedicated intelligence professionals to promote the interests of the United States and safeguard it against threats in an ever-changing, turbulent world. In a larger sense, it’s very similar to the efforts of luxury marketers to gain mindshare of affluents. The storyline has a premier brand, the United States, whose influence is being threatened. Like luxury marketers, the team has to promote the brand while also protecting it from powerful, opposing forces in the marketplace who desire to diminish its influence. 

It’s an elbow-jabbing, jostling competition where only the best can play. The series presents the marketplace of opposing ideas (or brands) as a constant juggernaut, as opponents strive for leverage against each other, vying for the hearts and minds of their audiences. It’s about looking for and uncovering elements of “truth” and acting upon them.



Consider these observations from “Homeland” for luxury marketers:

  • Lapses in heightened awareness lead to consequences.
    At the beginning of every episode, Carrie Mathison (CIA operative) laments that she didn’t see the threat pattern of 9/11 developing and is afraid that the team will, once again, not see new events conspire against them because they may have their attention diverted. She makes the point that awareness requires heightened vigilance or the opposition will get a toehold that may be impossible to regain. 

For luxury marketers, this can translate into a meticulous understanding about what competitors are doing, as well as rigorous attention to how messaging is being received by audiences. This may require additional spending on competitive profiling and consumer behavior mapping to gain actionable insights.

  • Openness to unexpected alliances can be beneficial.
    The “Homeland” team finds that influence can be optimized by looking for relationships that may not seem to be promising at first, but ultimately provide great value. 

Marketers might also strive to be open to relationships that bring new, intense collaboration that benefits all parties.

  • Data is an amorphous commodity.
    Data collection continues to flow to the “Homeland” team and interpretation of what it means has to be constantly monitored and perceptions adjusted. There is heightened awareness that data needs informed human interpretation, but with the awareness that all opinions are not equal. There may be other factors at play (known by various characters) that have to be factored into decision making, making it collaborative and messy. 

Luxury marketers have the same challenge. It’s easy to view data as delivering a set of conclusions that are stable. But as “Homeland” challenges, the data can shift and advantage can be lost by not being agile in interpretation, and questioning the “what-if” scenarios the data presents.

  • Step in and step up to the challenge.
    One of the most positive aspects of “Homeland” is that characters are pulled into new situations and have to step up in new ways to add to the team’s knowledge. Saul Berenson (Carrie’s mentor and Middle East Division Chief) and Virgil (the “go-to” guy for surveillance) don’t wait to be assigned to solve a problem. They don’t let their organizational positions hold them back from thinking above their pay grade. There is a strong sense of cohesiveness and team mission in posing solutions. 

Marketing teams might want to break down artificial structures in team organization and look inward for empowerment. This cross-functional blend also requires a different type of check and balance system as teams move forward.

  • There is a commanding urgency to engage vigorously every day as well as for the long-term win.
    The playing field for “Homeland,” as the marketplace for marketers, doesn’t remain constant. It’s a matter of winning the small battles, knowing that a larger battleground looms. Intensity is tempered by timing, of putting together a plan so compelling, it has to succeed.

For luxury marketers, efforts on behalf of brands have to be fueled with the same type of energy and passion that drives them each day to make a difference. Not every decision will be right, but the force of the accumulated decisions will shape and compel the long-term win.

“Homeland” presents a life-and-death struggle where the team has to constantly monitor and evaluate information and adjust to ever-evolving influences to stay “at the top of the game.” It has a similar reality to the world of luxury marketers as each strives to catapult their influence and effect other’s behaviors. It’s also about being open to moving the brand forward vigorously, based upon gathering intelligence and acting smartly on it. As the show frequently repeats in its closing, “To uncover the truth, you have to know where to look.”

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