Last year, popular Adult Swim show "Rick and Morty" partnered with Wendy’s to promote the fast food brand’s breakfast menu in an animated ad spot that threatened, “Get Wendy’s breakfast before Wendy’s breakfast gets you.” Now, the misadventurous grandpa and grandson duo are teaming with the chain for the second year in a row. And, as with any sequel, this time it’s bigger and more ambitious than the first.
‘Rick and Morty’ Invade Wendy’s with immersive pop-up
To celebrate the debut of the series' fifth season on June 20, "Rick and Morty" and Wendy's will be dropping a new animated ad by Adult Swim's creative team, and fans in Southern California will be able to visit a pop-up experience this weekend and dive into the show's universe.
Just outside of Los Angeles in Panorama City, Wendy's will be renaming its restaurant to "Morty's" from June 18-20. There, customers too can become "interdimensional travelers" and partake in an otherworldly LED drive-thru adventure. They'll also be able to feast on "Rick and Morty"-themed menu items, including a limited-edition Pickle Rick Frosty.
Non-Californians will get a taste of the action as well. Starting tomorrow, June 16, more than 5,000 Wendy’s locations across the U.S. will have their Coca-Cola Freestyle machines raided by Rick and Morty with exclusive themed beverages: Mello Yello BerryJerryboree and Mello Yello Portal Time Lemon Lime. Wendy’s is also offering free delivery through its app from June 17 to July 1 so that viewers don’t have to miss a second of the new season.
Tricia Melton, CMO of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, tells Ad Age that choosing partners that understand the voice and fan base of each brand is critical to each collaboration’s success—which is precisely why Wendy’s has become a repeat partner.
“It is truly a collaboration, and not just a collaboration between the brand and Wendy's, but the ‘Rick and Morty’ creators and the show production team," Melton says. "They're either creating the content, or they're very involved in approving what we're developing. So it really reflects the authentic voice of the series.”
Jimmy Bennett, VP of Media and Social at Wendy’s, adds, “We’re huge ‘Rick and Morty’ fans and I think that's a great place to start—when you love a program and an experience like this, it makes it easy to see the possibilities." Bennett added that making sure the partnership's products "live up to the expectations of the fans was a No. 1 priority for us.”
According to WarnerMedia, the previous partnership on the breakfast-themed ad scored just under 8 million views. It lifted Wendy’s unaided awareness by 88% and three-fourths of "Rick and Morty" viewers said their interest in Wendy’s grew because of the partnership.
“The days of not getting custom with a client are over,” adds Katrina Cukaj, lead of ad sales and partnerships at WarnerMedia. “Our purpose as we get into all of these partner opportunities is how do we make it bigger and better, year after year after year... it's really about bringing our clients and their brands close to the fans.”
The "Rick and Morty" partnership with Wendy’s is part of a larger campaign for the show’s upcoming premiere, deemed "Global Rick and Morty Day" by Adult Swim. Festivities include a show-themed avatar-creation site as well as the launch of a miniature version of Rick’s Space Cruiser 150,000 feet into the atmosphere.
Adult Swim and Wendy's aren't strangers to immersive marketing. The 2019 Winter X Games featured a Wendy's ski-thru restaurant in partnership with ESPN, and this past weekend, giant inflatables were spotted floating through New York Harbor for Adult Swim's Season 2 launch of "Tuca and Bertie."
Wendy's continues to promote breakfast, which accounted for 7% of its 2020 sales and helped vault the chain above Burger King to become the No. 2 player in the category. It is also in the market with spicy chicken sandwich-flavored Pringles. "Rick and Morty," meanwhile, collaborated with Pringles on "Pickle Rick," "Honey Mustard Morty,” and “Look at Me! I’m Cheddar & Sour Cream” flavors last year. The show and the Kellogg Co. snack line even released a Super Bowl spot in 2020.