“Turn: Washington’s Spies” has never been a big performer for AMC: The period drama finished its Season 2 run on June 8, 2015 with 1.6 million viewers (after three days of DVR and VOD usage is included) – down from the 2.2 million that watched the show’s Season 1 finale in 2014.
Nonetheless, AMC believes in the period drama, which returns for its third season on April 25 at 10/9c. Last year, AMC changed the show’s title from “Turn” to “Turn: Washington’s Spies” in order to drum up more interest. This year, the network is looking to promote the show by tapping into TV’s hottest unscripted sensation: The bonkers 2016 presidential campaign.
That’s why, in one recent promo for “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” AMC invokes Trump by borrowing his now-infamous “Make Donald Trump Again” tagline. In the spot, the network suggests that Washington and the founding fathers are the people who originally “Made America Great.” And yes, those words are written in white typeface on red background, a not-so-subtle nod to Trump’s ubiquitous red trucker hat.
Equal opportunity AMC also tweaks Democratic candidate Bernie Sander’s “Feel the Bern” catch phrase. The punsters at AMC are instead asking viewers to “Feel the ‘Turn.'”
Then AMC took things one step further this Wednesday, when it enlisted former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee (R) and Martin O’Malley (D) to help unveil the show’s new key art at an event in Washington, D.C. Both of them flanked the show’s stars, including Ian Kahn (who plays Washington).
“They were game,” Linda Schupack, AMC’s executive vice president of marketing, said of the real-life politicians. And since Huckabee and O’Malley dropped out of the race a while ago, both politicians had time on their hands.
Additionally, the network has created an online poll, found at Washington1778.com, in which it pits George Washington against the remaining presidential contenders. To the likely relief of American history scholars, the first president boasts an overwhelming lead.
“We have no point of view around the current political climate,” Schupack said. “But there was a great opportunity to have some fun with it.”
Hanging “Turn’s” campaign on 2016’s campaign season might be risky, given how fiercely divided the nation is on many issues. But Schupack isn’t worried about alienating any potential viewers who might be suffering from political overload.
“We’re an entertainment network,” she said. “Our hope is people will appreciate the cleverness of the campaign to draw attention to ‘Turn.’ And it may be an antidote to what’s going on (in the campaign).”
For another glimpse at “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” check out the video below: