An inside look at 'Rickstaverse', Adult Swim's Instagram game for 'Rick and Morty'

Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty," now in its second season is so popular that it was the only animated show to make it to the top ten in pirated shows last month. The Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon (Community) show which airs on Sundays at 11:30 Eastern has ammased over 166,000 followers on Instagram. Since its beginning the show has smartly used Instagram. For season one an episode was released in 15 seconds at a time. In honor of season two Adult Swim, with the help from agency Carrot Creative (owned by Vice), launched Rickstaverse a first of it's kind Instagram game.

The video about the game itself has over 140,000 views (see above) proving what a hit both the show and their social TV efforts are. Here's how the game works, followed by an interview with Adult Swim's VP of Consumer Marketing Jim Babcock.

  • By tapping once on individual photos, fans can discover tags, which act as portals to different worlds and collectibles.
  • The experience takes advantage of Instagram’s new HD upload standard, with every level, image and video in beautiful 1080p HD quality.
  • The Experience spans over 80 different Instagram accounts
  • 11 planets to explore (eight at launch, three to be revealed during season two)
  • 1000+ high resolution images
  • Eight mini-comics
  • Interactive collectibles with 18 different video outcomes

Found Remote: How did you come up with the idea for Rickstaverse?

Jim Babcock:We’re always trying to come up with new ways to make our shows stand out in a very noisy world. Last year, we used Instagram to leak a new episode of Rick and Morty, 15 seconds at a time. For our brand and the audience we’re trying to reach, it feels really natural and effective to use social media and other marketing channels in ways that feel like you’re breaking it, in an interesting way.

So this year, we started talking about how to make a similar, non-conventional stunt happen, and engaged an agency (Carrot Creative) to help. The complex story and intricate art of Rick and Morty make fans want to dive deeper and deeper into strange, interesting worlds, and to warp in between them, just like the characters do. So the idea felt very natural to the show and also like an interesting way to warp the intended functionality of Instagram.

FR: How long did it take to build?

JB: From agreeing on the idea until launch, about 2 1/2 months. With lots of very talented creative people feeling really passionate about putting in a lot of work to launch it on time.

FR: Is this the first game of its kind in Instagram?

JB: We are pretty sure that’s the case.

FR: How did you launch it and get so much attention (video about it has a lot of views)?

First, Rick and Morty is one of our most popular shows, and excitement for Season 2 has been building for quite a while. The unveiling of the Rickstaverse came along right as we were launching the new season, so it rode that wave of fan enthusiasm that was peaking leading up to the premiere that week.

Then we have this very popular TV network called Adult Swim, so we let viewers know the Rickstaverse had been launched through on-air promotion and our social media channels. Additionally, with the Season 1 Instragram stunt, we had built a solid following there, so we promoted from that account over to the Rickstaverse.

The show creators, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, and many of the show stars and celebrity fans helped promote it through their social media accounts. The press and online media also found it very interesting – which helped bring wider attention to it, too.

And perhaps most importantly, once fans got onto the Rickstaverse, they loved it and started telling their friends to check it out and posted about it on Reddit and so forth. So people found out about it lots of ways.

FR: What are some of the KPIs you will be looking for?

JB: We’re definitely keeping an eye on the number of followers and how deep people go into the experience, what images get the most comments and likes. And we like to see if people find everything that we’ve stuck deep down into it.

But we are really happy with the Rickstaverse as an interesting way to engage fans in the show’s many worlds and dimensions, to get them excited about the new season and to help make more people aware Plus it's an amazing creative achievement, so we’re happy as we can be and busy thinking of what to do next.

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