How Showtime Can Turn ‘Twin Peaks’ 2.0 Into a 21st Century Success Story

Erica Martinez.

Erica Martinez.

By Erica Martinez, planning director at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

Full disclosure: In addition to being a career marketer, I am a huge Twin Peaks fan. I spent much of October rejoicing over the news that after 25 years – just as Laura Palmer promised – the show would be back on air, and thanks to Showtime’s deal with creators Mark Frost and David Lynch, that’s about to happen: Twin Peaks is returning to TV, this time on premium cable.

It’s a potential bonanza of a deal for Showtime and Netflix alike; the latter currently streams episodes of the original series, and will draw the curious who want to revisit the sleepy (yet dangerous) town all over again, while the former will reap the benefits of the brand name cult series’ longtime fans.

But TV revivals don’t always work: 2009’s The Prisoner was an epic fail, and today it’s not just about coming up with a fresh take on cult-favorite content. Showtime will have to make TP 2.0 into an internet and social media powerhouse to grab the attention of TV viewers now used to post-shows (like AMC’s Talking Dead), live-tweeted recaps (like Fox’s Bones) and interactive content of all kinds.

Showtime will have to make TP 2.0 into an internet and social media powerhouse to grab the attention of TV viewers now used to post-shows, live-tweeted recaps and interactive content.

The original series was ahead of its time when it first came out – strange, eerie, self-contained and focused around a single main mystery that shot off in a dozen different directions. The question today is how will Lynch, Frost and Showtime can make the show feel like it still is ahead of its time? Here’s a look at some key areas they’ll need to focus on before the show returns in 2016:

The website should imitate the show’s enigmatic, slightly spooky tone.
TV show websites are hit and miss; marketers don’t seem to think much about them. Dr. Oz’s “You Can Feel” site won the Web Marketing Association’s WebAward for outstanding achievement in web development in 2013; it’s been more than 5 years since a drama (USA’s Burn Notice) won that award. Most sites risk being mere marketing ploys, rather than integral to the shows themselves. A TP site should be beautifully designed, feature fantastic UX, and full of rich content. (Not, let’s say, like David Lynch’s current, dull “The Big Dream” website.)

Web presence should offer rich, original content.
Original fans need to be able to replay the original back story, and new fans need to catch up. Beyond that, the content team should permit fan fiction, streaming music and perhaps even faux radio broadcasts (a la the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, which sounds like a town report but actually details strange, often unexplained events). This would immerse viewers in a unique world in which they can lose themselves, yet also contribute fresh content.

Tweet, tweet and tweet some more – but don’t ignore the rest of the social media universe.
Lynch is already active on Twitter, as are a number of members of the original cast (it’s unclear who will be back in 2016’s version). Live interaction during show airings is popular with many shows currently, and TP should get in on this trend. Perhaps they should even have the characters – not just the actors – Tweet during the show, then continue the story between broadcasts? Just like we know that when Portlandia’s characters post about the Academy Awards they’re being sent from actors in character, it’d be fun to hear about Agent Cooper and the rest when the show’s not on. All of the social channels will be important to the great potential success of TP, but we can’t assume that we know what will be the hot new thing in 2016.  We just know that they need to leverage all of what’s happening today in the run up to the debut.

Expand into the world of conventions.
New York Comic Con welcomed George Clooney for the first time this year. The TP set absolutely should be getting out and pressing the flesh in San Diego and New York, making TP cosplay as popular as Star Trek‘s (if that’s possible). It’s just about as participatory as you can get, and the viral value is awesome.

Lynch, a longtime Hollywood movie director with his own unique vision, is surely thinking every step of this process through. What will be interesting is to see how he translates his cinematic talents to the current media landscape – and whether that coffee and pie can taste as good a second time around.

Erica Martinez is Planning Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. Prior to joining SSW, Erica worked in brand strategy, content strategy, trends and insights at BAV Consulting, Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve and Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. She has been published in MediaPost and is a panelist at industry events.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at RDawn (@)

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