‘Flavor stacking’ has been the focus of the last two Pringles Super Bowl ads, and this year the brand has taken it to the next level by trapping Adult Swim’s cult favorites Rick and Morty in a commercial.
In the full animated 30-second spot, a Pringles robot disguised as Morty appears overly enthusiastic about the Spicy Barbecue Pizza stack, made using Pringles Pizza, Barbeque and Jalapeno crisps. Rick immediately catches on to his grandson’s bizarrely out-of-character corporate jargon, unmasks the Mortybot and comes to the startling realization that they’re trapped inside a Pringles commercial and can’t get out.
A legion of Mortybots swarms the scene as Pringles fills the screen.
Gareth Maguire, senior director of marketing for Pringles, said that the idea to partner with Rick and Morty came from the flavor stacking idea and how it might fit with the show’s ‘multiverse’ concept.
“It was the team from Grey creative that got us excited about this,” Maguire told The Drum. “The premise of the Rick and Morty show is that they go to different universes – the multiverse, just infinite. They have interdimensional cable, and everything is possible within the world of Rick and Morty.
“And we said, ‘well, there’s probably something in that for us, to showcase the infinite possibilities of stacking different flavors of Pringles’. And frankly, the stats that we were seeing on Rick and Morty being the number one comedy for young people in America 18-30. It’s humorous, it’s quirky, but great numbers and fan following with that group…so that’s why we decided to go talk to the team at Rick and Morty. We were really happy when (creators) Dan (Harmon) and Justin (Roiland) came back and said they’d love to partner with us. They must have seen something about Pringles that they liked, too.”
Maguire said they had some brainstorming with the Rick and Morty crew and their agency partners, including Grey, and that’s where the idea of making Pickle Rick chips came about, which will be in stores before the Super Bowl.
“The last time Rick and Morty did something with food, McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, there was lots of excitement around that,” added Maguire, hoping for the same success.
After ideations, the Rick and Morty team went away to work their magic, then came back with some different directions for the spot. “That’s when it became fascinating for us because you’re getting an insight to how they create the programming to a certain degree. You’re seeing black and white sketches of Rick and Morty on the can and it was great to see that process. They said ‘this is how it would come to life in Rick and Morty,’ so when you see the spot, I hope you’ll feel that it looks like a Rick and Morty episode segment featuring Pringles, not a Pringles ad featuring Rick and Morty,” said Maguire.
“Rick and Morty is the biggest comedy show around, so of course we were extremely excited about their first trip to the Big Game,” added Jill King, senior vice-president, marketing and partnerships, Adult Swim. “With Pringles’ fun personality and devoted audience, there’s no better partner for Rick and Morty’s big debut. There are a lot of Rick and Morty fans out there, and they’re all going to go crazy when they see it, but it’s going to be so fun sharing it with an even wider audience, who we are confident will love it too.”
When Rick and Morty put out the six-second teaser on social media, Maguire was curious to see how it would perform so he went online and saw the tweet counter rise rapidly. “800, then 900 and by the end of two hours it was up to 11,000. This fan base just wants to get content from Rick and Morty, they just absolutely love it. The thing that pleased me was how excited they were about the fact that Pringles was doing something with Rick and Morty, and that Pickle Rick was coming. It felt like they wanted to see more of it,” he said.
Post-Super Bowl plans
Pringles is hoping to make that connection with a younger target group that it wants to become the next generation of Pringles fans, working with Rick and Morty in a way that doesn’t feel clunky.
“It’s not just about this one 30-second spot. After the Super Bowl you’ll see more social content that the team are creating for us, right up to Comic-Con, which is also new territory for us. It’s a huge platform and we’ve never been involved, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Pringles does there. Depending on how Pickle Rick does, there’s other food ideas we can bring to the market. We’re just going to feed off the reaction from the Super Bowl and after,” said Maguire.
The 30-second spot will air during the second quarter of the game. The ad will be supported by a fully integrated marketing campaign including PR, digital, social media, e-commerce and the Pickle Rick chips.
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