- Pringles will run a Super Bowl ad for the third consecutive year, and partnered with the Adult Swim animated series "Rick and Morty" for its 2020 Big Game effort, according to a press release.
- The show's creators and agency Grey Group are helping develop the Kellogg brand's 30-second spot, which will air during the game's second quarter. The commercial nods to a popular episode of the show, "Pickle Rick," where the titular mad scientist Rick Sanchez transforms himself into a sentient pickle to avoid attending family therapy.
- Additionally, Pringles will introduce a limited-edition, Pickle Rick flavor-inspired can of chips around the Super Bowl. An integrated campaign featuring PR, digital, social media, e-commerce and product sampling will support the push, and the partnership will extend throughout the year, per the release.
Pringles is switching up its Super Bowl strategy for 2020 by forging a partnership with one of Adult Swim's marquee programs and broadening the effort well past gameday through an integrated marketing campaign that touches across social, retail and e-commerce. "Rick and Morty," an adult-oriented animated sci-fi series with a dark humor streak, has developed a cult following the Kellogg-owned marketer is looking to tap into by introducing a collectible product inspired by a fan-favorite episode, which became a meme online.
Letting the show's creators and Adult Swim guide the Super Bowl creative could help ensure the in-game commercial fits in line with the general tone of "Rick and Morty." Authenticity is an important consideration for brands when marketing around fan culture, and "Rick and Morty" devotees have caused headaches for marketers in the past.
McDonald's two years ago reintroduced Szechuan sauce, a limited-run condiment originally tied to the 1998 Disney film "Mulan," in response to a viral episode where Rick becomes obsessed over acquiring more of the product. A limited supply of sauce, along with a lack of availability at some restaurant locations, led to strong fan backlash, and show co-creator Justin Roiland eventually distanced himself and Adult Swim from the promotion, which he claimed to have no involvement in, according to Polygon.
Despite the controversy, other brands have looked to work their way into the culture surrounding "Rick and Morty," which returned for its fourth season this fall. Around the season premiere in November, car-sharing marketplace Turo partnered with Adult Swim on a "Mortymobile" — a 2010 Mica Mazda 3 with a giant fiberglass Morty clinging to the top — that users could rent for the day.
Pringles indicated that the "Rick and Morty" Super Bowl spot next year will continue the theme of flavor-stacking, the concept that consumers can stack different variants of the brand's chips together to create new, surprising flavors of their own. Flavor-stacking has been a creative motif for Pringles going back to its Super Bowl advertising debut in 2018 with a commercial starring actor Bill Hader.