New artists who are trying to break into a saturated environment with a new movie or book or record should understand that to be successful and believable to the consumers of today’s internet culture you have to build an immersive world.
A recent survey indicated that Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty” is the No. 1 comedy show among millennials and it isn’t hard to understand why. Co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland don’t limit their television show Rick and Morty into just being a television show. For the past few months, traveling around the country has been the Rickmobile. It is, for all intents and purposes, a small marketing apparatus aimed to elevate the show’s awareness.
Except that isn’t what’s happening! Instead fans really love the Rickmobile, as it represents a chance to connect and convene with fellow fans of the sci-fi show. People produce hand-crafted signage and create lovingly draw tributes of their experience. All for a chance to get shwifty and buy exclusive merchandise of their favorite show.
— jess (@grifinity) October 6, 2017
But that isn’t the wildest interaction Rick and Morty has had between its show’s universe and our own. On April Fool’s Day of this year, Harmon and Roiland randomly dropped the season 3 premiere for Rick and Morty and was available online for the next 48 hours. Included in the episode was a highly idiosyncratic joke about McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce. Initially used to promote the Disney movie Mulan, acquiring the sweet, tangy dipping sauce would be Rick’s “series arc” even it took “nine more seasons” or “97 years.”
The idiosyncratic obsession of Rick’s went viral. Suddenly, those who’d never heard of the sauce were absolutely dripping with angst, wanting to try this sauce that died out in 1998. McDonald’s then stoked the fires, sending the sauce to three lucky fans and Roiland. Yes, a cartoon joke urged a multibillion dollar enterprise into getting sauced for them. And while you could dismiss this as a corporation pandering to a marketable audience they desperately want to reach—i.e. millennials—it still demonstrates the cultural power of a show like Rick and Morty that McDonald’s would listen.
Holy shit. pic.twitter.com/vNEIfHTmNU
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) July 30, 2017
This Saturday, Oct. 7, select McDonald’s locations will include the sauce on their menus. Though it’s a promotional tool for their new buttermilk crispy tenders—a totally necessary name for chicken tenders—it is 1000% bonkers this is happening.
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But this is just one of the many ways Rick and Morty interacts with its fans outside the confines of the show. It connects with the audience in venues where they live and never fails to surprise. How can you not want that from your favorite TV show?
One thing remains up in the air. Now that McDonald’s is bringing back the Szechuan sauce, though, what’s the point of the rest of the show? In true Rick fashion, probably the point was *burp* there never was a point to begin with.