9:00am PT by Michael O'Connell
FX Pushes Cryptic 'Americans' Emmy Pitch With "The Russians Are Here" Ads
Readers of The New York Times and viewers of morning shows such as Face the Nation were greeted by a rather startling image on Sunday: the Washington Monument cloaked in a Russian flag.
Under the banner of "The Russians Are Here," with other notable D.C. buildings in the background, the arresting image, which also appeared in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, includes only a link with the same copy swapped in as the URL. It wont point to any theories about Russian hacking or commentary on the ongoing saga of James Comey; rather, it's an Emmy pitch for FX's The Americans.
The complete "for your consideration" site hosts a litany of critical praise for the Cold War-era spy drama, pitches for individual performances and video embeds of the recently concluded fifth season. It comes as Emmy campaigning truly heats up, and the once-overlooked drama aims to repeat last year's trio of surprise nominations in key categories: best drama, best lead actress for Keri Russell and best lead actor for Matthew Rhys.
FX's ad, which seems like it was designed to drum up a mix of intrigue and controversy, appears with no branding for the show or network and no Emmy imagery. So, for the point to really be driven home, it requires a bit of participation. Video spots ran on Face the Nation, This Week and 60 Minutes (in New York, Los Angeles and DC markets) and will again run Tuesday on all of the primetime shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Sources say the only net to turn down the spot was NBC, which wanted either an Americans or FX logo to run with the tease.
This is not the first time The Americans has played around with the notion of a Russian takeover. Since the prestige drama's launch in 2013, it has put playful advertising in The New York Times, blanketing the online homepage with Russian headlines and stories as recently as this year. The last such takeover happened in March, conveniently timed to the fifth-season premiere and attorney general Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador.
It's hard to emphasize just how much U.S.-Russian relations have changed since FX launched The Americans. The drama's arrival four years ago, early in President Barack Obama's second term, came long before hacking and election influencing were considered a reality. The newspaper ads and TV spots come on a Sunday where the bulk of political coverage is still focusing on Thursday's three-hour congressional testimony from James Comey, in which the former FBI director spoke at length about his talks with President Donald Trump about the ongoing investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election.
But the stunt is clearly with another voter in mind. With nomination voting scheduled to begin Monday, The Americans' push is the most opportune one the FYC season has seen thus far — if TV Academy members were, in fact, watching CBS Sunday Morning.