Twin Peaks returned to Showtime on Sunday, and fans got a head start on the excitement thanks to some clever and equally mysterious marketing.
David Lynch’s original show first aired in 1990—telling the story of eccentric FBI agent Dale Cooper, who arrives in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington to solve the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. There, he encounters a colorful cast of residents, dark secrets and surrealistic adventures. A sequel was announced in 2014, but as development hit one snag after another, fans had to wait until until 2017.
A few months ago, residents of Australia began noticing missing posters for Palmer. The posters say that Laura has been missing for 25 years. When dialing the listed phone number, the show’s iconic theme music begins to play, followed by a recording of a backward voice that says, “It is happening again,” when played the other way. It provided hope for Twin Peaks fans who missed out on the original airing in their region. Luckily for them, the new show is broadcast in Australia as well as Canada, Scandinavia, the UK and US.
— Twin Peaks (@TwinPeaksArchve) March 5, 2017
Cryptic billboards also started to appear around strategic locations in the US—depicting either a cherry pie with a piece missing or a single slice. Savvy fans quickly figured out that the crust pattern matches Twin Peaks‘ infamous Red Room floor, and the billboard locations correspond to important events in the first series, as well as creator David Lynch’s home town.
Special Agent Dale Cooper loves his coffee, cherry pie and donuts, so it wouldn’t be a Twin Peaks marketing campaign without some “damn good” eats. At SXSW, Showtime brought two locations from the original show—Black Lodge and RR Diner—complete with easter eggs from the show, souvenirs and, of course, doughnuts. Cooper himself (actor Kyle MacLachlan) even made an appearance, much to the fans’ delight.
Showtime partnered with 3D anamorphic sidewalk artists Leon Keer and Nate Baranowski to recreate the iconic Red Room on the streets of Brooklyn, Portland and Los Angeles.
Commuters in New York City were surprised yet delighted to find two limited-edition Twin Peaks MetroCards available at select subway stations. The back side of the cards featured key art with either Cooper or Palmer along with the “It is happening again” tagline.
— Twin Peaks 🌑 (@ThatsOurWaldo) May 15, 2017
The New York promotions continued through a partnership with Grub Street, who offered cherry pie and coffee from its food trucks ahead of the show’s premiere.
— Grub Street (@grubstreet) May 19, 2017
VooDoo Doughnuts, who provided the breakfast confections for Twin Peaks‘ SXSW experiential marketing, offered free limited-edition treats.
— Twin Peaks (@SHO_TwinPeaks) May 20, 2017
The official Twin Peaks premiere event had social media buzzing with photos, celebrities and footage from the red carpet celebration May 19. Fans could show their love for the series with an official Facebook profile frame and Showtime hosted a Facebook Live pre-show for the premiere. Actor Kyle MacLachlan made a special appearance on the official Entertainment Weekly Instagram account, while actress Mädchen Amick took over the official Twin Peaks Twitter account. While not everyone could be invited to the premiere itself, Showtime didn’t forget the fans—going as far as to sponsor an official viewing party at Pie Hole in Los Angeles.
— Twin Peaks (@SHO_TwinPeaks) May 21, 2017
Fans can also show their love for the franchise through merchandise from Hot Topic, including RR Diner, buttons and more.
— Twin Peaks (@SHO_TwinPeaks) May 20, 2017
It’s been a long journey from the Twin Peaks finale more than 25 years ago, but allowing fans to celebrate as a community before and during the show’s return is nostalgia marketing at its best. All that hard work paid off, as Sunday’s premiere became Showtime’s single biggest day and weekend of signups ever.
“In the world that we live in now, offering original programming that attracts new subscribers is our primary business objective,” Showtime Networks president and CEO David Nevins told Deadline Hollywood. “By that standard, the Twin Peaks premiere is the biggest single-night driver we’ve ever had.”