FU Inbound Marketing: Lessons From House Of Card's Frank Underwood

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May 30, 2017
Ericka Lewis Ericka Lewis

Ah yes, House of Cards is back and boy oh boy we cannot wait to binge watch! Frank Underwood is essentially like a really good inbound marketing strategy. Why? Let’s break his inbound anatomy and get our execs' thoughts on the matter.

1. FU appeals to his buyer persona.

House of Cards was originally a British show featuring, rightfully so — an old-fashioned conservative Tory deceitfully out-maneuvering the British parliament. Upon it’s arrival to US soil, however, producers made sure to tweak the show to appeal to its intended audience — us Americans. 


Instead of the “epitome of elegant evil” that was the British Francis Ewan Urquhart, what we get is a conniving and Machiavellian southern-twanged majority whip, Frank Underwood, from Gaffney, South Carolina.

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The result? A high-rating series that is captivating the American audience and hits home.

>>> Matt's two cents

"House of Cards didn't become a hit by accident. Netflix uses analytics and data from their 50+ million subscribers in the US to determine what types of shows will be hits with their audience. And they don't stop there. The trailer you saw for House of Cards is likely very different than the trailer your friend, co-worker, or mother saw. Watch shows starring strong females? You saw a trailer mostly featuring Claire Underwood. Watch movies featuring Kevin Spacey, and guess what... you saw a trailer with primarily Kevin Spacey throughout. 

Netflix is not only tailoring their shows to their audience, they are tailoring their trailers to sub-audiences. The whole reason for this is Netflix knows the value of putting the most relevant content and messaging in front of their audience so that it's actually wanted and ultimately, consumed.

This keeps their audience engaged and coming back for more. Understanding your buyer personas deeper will ultimately engage the audience you desire to be doing business with."

2. FU is a brilliant double entendre social campaign

Remember the hashtag #FU2016? Considering the show’s protagonist, Mr. Frank Underwood is essentially also the villain who is out to F%^& us all (excuse the language), that double entendre was a mighty wicked one (10 points for spotting the other double entendre here).

>>> Jon's two cents

Frank does have a way about him, doesn't he.  He tells you like it is, or at least his views on it.  Companies can take away some of this genius strategy with little effort.  For example he ran a whole campaign that was memorable, "FU2016".  Using a little humor can really help companies stand out in a crowd and be memorable.


2. FU speaks directly to the audience

Let’s admit it, it’s hard to root for the villain of the show. But not if that villain is Frank Underwood. The reason why it’s easy for us to root for this particular villainous protagonist even if we find ourselves abhorred at his actions is the intimate connection he has formed with us.


He speaks to us directly in a language we understand about his deepest secrets, the inner workings of his sinister mind, and some very human feelings we have all felt or thought about before.

>>> Daniel's two cents

His monologues are a big part of why I enjoy this show.  He speaks directly to you and gives you his unique perspective. It makes the show feel very personal and real. When creating an inbound marketing campaign, take a tip from FU and share your unique perspective in a personal way that will genuinely win over your buyer personas.


Happy binging! Don't forget to breathe and eat. Hope you learned an inbound marketing thing or two from the infamous Frank Underwood!