Pringles will run a Super Bowl spot for the third consecutive year, building on its ongoing "flavor stacking" concept — combining different variants of chips to create something unique — introduced with the brand's big game debut in 2018. As Pringles has settled into a Super Bowl groove over the years, its ambitions have widened, pushing the strategy beyond TV and into new territory that this year includes mobile game integrations and experiential elements.
"It isn't just about the 30 seconds on Sunday," Senior Director of Marketing Gareth Maguire told Marketing Dive in an interview. "We've enjoyed the success of the last couple of years of getting back into the game. Each year, we try to make it bigger and we try and make it better."
The most significant development to Pringles' playbook for 2020 is a partnership with Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty," a tie-up initially pitched by the brand's agency partner Grey Group, according to Maguire. Pringles is leveraging the "Rick and Morty" relationship as a launchpad for several initiatives in a larger integrated campaign that will run throughout the year, including a limited-edition Pickle Rick-flavored chip inspired by a viral episode of the show; an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con; and the snack label's first integration with a mobile game via the "Pocket Morty" app.
With these efforts, Pringles is looking to reach a fan base of 18- to 30-year-olds — the coveted Gen Z and young millennial set — that have converted "Rick and Morty" into a pop culture phenomenon and were already gravitating toward the snack brand's flavor stacking activations, per Maguire.
"It's a big show, but it's got a broad appeal as well in terms of its humor. Certainly for us, it gives us, on social media, much more engagement — even in these last few weeks since we've linked up with them — than we've seen before," Maguire said of the tie-up. "That's fairly new territory for us."
Handing over the keys
Pringles' Super Bowl TV spot, airing during the game's second quarter, was handled by the "Rick and Morty" creators and animation team, along with Grey Group. The approach shows the Kellogg-owned marketer making a big bet, as it hands over the creative keys to a TV series known for its edgy sense of humor and prickly but passionate following — all on one of advertising's biggest annual stages.
But early reactions to the partnership are promising, per Maguire, as a six-second teaser video focused on an alternate dimension of Pringles-branded Morty robots produced a strong online response that is generating hype heading into Sunday.
"The reaction that we saw on social to that ... It was like a ticker rolling up and up and up on likes and retweets," Maguire said.
Pringles is broadening its outreach by traveling to experiential-focused events like Comic-Con and working with the "Rickmobile," a vehicle shaped like the titular mad scientist. Spotlighting the limited-edition Pickle Rick chip, which hits store shelves this week, is one of the key ways Pringles is looking to imbue these activation with a sense of authenticity and deeper roots from a fan-favorite episode.
"We knew how iconic the character is. It was in the last [season], but people still ... get Pickle Rick socks and Pickle Rick inflatables and costumes," Maguire said. "It still has a cult following."
In terms of what's coming down the pike, Maguire hinted that Pringles will continue to tap into fan insights to inform its creative approach to working with "Rick and Morty" and broader brand thinking.
"We want to keep feeding off the reaction of the fans," Maguire said. "I'm looking to get inspired by [how] people react to Pickle Rick and our first spot to see how that may craft what we do down the line."