Sarah Palin and Roy Moore Are Unwittingly Doing a Masterful Job Marketing Showtime’s Who Is America?

It's got that Sacha Baron Cohen brand of comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen's new series will premiere Sunday. Showtime
Headshot of Sara Jerde

Showtime has two politicians to thank for spearheading what has become a huge marketing campaign for its new satirical show Who Is America?

The series, hosted by Sacha Baron Cohen, will apparently explore “diverse individuals” in America. But it appears the series will feature the comedian interviewing politicians, at least Sarah Palin and Roy Moore, who made sure to tell their followers all about what had happened.

It inadvertently drummed up more headlines for the show, and Palin called it a “sick” move.

“Yup — we were duped. Ya’ got me, Sacha. Feel better now?” Palin said on Facebook, before blaming CBS and Showtime for enabling the situation.

Moore had a similar reaction.

“I don’t need Sacha Cohen to tell me who America is, but I can tell him that America is a proud Nation which sprang from humble beginnings and a strong belief in God, virtue, and morality,” said the former chief justice, who was accused of sexual misconduct.

Joe Maceda, Chief Instigation Officer, Mindshare North America, said he thought there would be more “narrative extensions,” where entertainment companies explore ways to offer consumers a preview of the product without making them pay, similar to pop-up experiences.

“I don’t know if getting these reactions was intentional, but given the intended audience for the program, they are certainly helping their PR strategy,” Maceda said. “The guests are putting the show in the spotlight for an additional news cycle every time they comment on it. Making some people angry is generating more exposure for the show.”

On Twitter, people were quick to joke that Palin and Moore had joined Showtime’s marketing campaign:

Showtime declined to comment on its inadvertent new PR team, but David Nevins, president and CEO of Showtime Networks Inc., said in a statement in the show’s announcement that “nobody knows how to cause a stir like Sacha Baron Cohen, and it’s going to be fascinating to watch what happens when Who Is America? is released on the world.”

The seven-episode series will debut Sunday at midnight ET.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.