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James Cullen was nominated as an MTM Markter to Watch for being recognized as an exemplary brand marketer with years of experience across gaming and entertainment, an award-winning brand campaign with Paramount+, and arguably one of the funniest ad spots in the 2024 Super Bowl. As Vice President of Global Brand Marketing for Paramount+, he leads a team of brand marketers focused on driving top-of-mind service awareness, service consideration, and customer acquisition via compelling, high-impact brand image campaigning, multi-title tactics and visible experiential touchpoints across the globe. Prior to his time at Paramount+, he worked in brand marketing at Sony PlayStation with creative agencies supporting the studios and briefly in virtual reality. Here’s his story.

white male with brown eyes and brown hair with a blue button down shirt standing in front of water

What gives me joy outside of work

Central California. My family has been driving up the coast for decades to places like Santa Barbara, Cambria, & Paso Robles for quick getaways. The beauty of that part of California is truly resetting, grounding, and inspiring. 

Every marketer should listen to

Jim Stengel’s CMO Podcast for its variety of prominent guests and the honest conversations about how to best lead major marketing organizations.

Future of Marketing

Q: What is one thing coming down the pike for marketing you are most excited about?

I’m excited about how incorporating advanced technologies, such as AI, into our day-to-day marketing will make our work more informed, efficient, and impactful.

Q: What widely accepted “marketing truth” or concept do you wish the industry would do away with or evolve? 

Let’s stop saying brand marketing doesn’t drive user acquisition. 

Q: What’s a prediction you have for brand marketing over the next few years?

The brands consumers care about will continue to shift away from big organizations and more towards individuals and their brand(s) (influencers, celebrities, etc.). This will put the onus on traditional brands to find and execute smart, demo-aligned partnerships with individuals, not just with organizations, to continue to be relevant. 

Brand Marketing at Paramount+ Streaming

Q: What’s something exciting you’re currently working on at Paramount+?  

Paramount+ brand marketing pop-up activation
Paramount+’s The Lodge pop-up activation

We recently kicked off the second year of our flagship experiential activation, “Paramount+’s The Lodge.” The cabin-like themed pop-up activation immerses fans across the United States into the worlds of their favorite Paramount+ movies and shows with exclusive merchandise giveaways, challenges, photo opportunities, custom drinks, and more. We’ll be popping up the life-size Lodge at mountain cities across the US like Winter Park (CO), Stratton (VT), Lake Tahoe (CA), and Steamboat Springs (CO), as well as major consumer events at SXSW in Austin (TX) and San Diego Comic-Con (CA).

Q: What’s the most pressing business challenge you’ve faced within the last year at Paramount+, and how have you tried to solve it?  

The competitiveness of the streaming entertainment space, combined with the increasing difficulty of breaking through in crowded and noisy digital environments, is the primary challenge our team faces. We seem to have found a formula at Paramount+ where our unique combination of humor, cleverness, nostalgia, and unexpectedness in our creative campaigning helps land key campaign messaging and connect with audiences in a lasting way.

Career and Leadership Advice

Q: What leadership muscle is most important for marketers to exercise?

My guiding operating principle is “be a creator, not a critic.” Discernment is certainly important, but I think marketers, and brand marketers in particular, should primarily be focused on “creating sandboxes” for creative, media, and other channel marketing teams to play and execute in. Ultimately, the impact of brand marketing can sometimes come down to the real estate and platforms you own (physically and/or mentally) to convey your message to broader audiences.

Q: What’s the most game-changing career advice youve received?

Decide early on what you want the “Point B” of your career to be. Then, use that as a filter for every major career decision you make. 

Marketers to Watch is a recognition series to spotlight highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing leaders in the community. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for the series, apply here.