- Wendy's is expanding its partnership with Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty" ahead of the show's fifth season, which premieres on June 20, per a press release.
- The effort includes two show-themed mixes available at Coca-Cola Freestyle machines at Wendy's locations (from June 16 to Aug. 22), free delivery via the Wendy's app (June 17 to July 1) and a restaurant pop-up that will convert a Los Angeles-area Wendy's into Morty's (June 18-20).
- The push, which also includes custom content on linear and digital channels, sees Wendy's deepening its relationship with a hit show that's become a frequent brand partner while embracing consumer behaviors that have evolved due to the pandemic.
Wendy's expanded partnership with "Rick and Morty" sees the fast food chain tying with the hit show in several ways as part of its efforts to engage younger consumers. The multichannel push aligns with evolving consumer behaviors, like those around delivery and content consumption — many of which changed during the pandemic and are settling into a new normal as vaccines continue to roll out and the economy reopens.
"We love finding authentic ways to connect with this passionate fanbase and are excited to extend the Rick and Morty experience into our menu, incredible content and great delivery deals all season long," Wendy's CMO Carl Loredo said in the press release.
The free in-app delivery offer seeks to engage consumers who have increasingly relied upon delivery since the pandemic first paused on-premise dining. By making the offer exclusive to its app, Wendy's can capture first-party consumer data that would otherwise be collected by third-party delivery services whose take rates have frustrated restaurant operators.
The Morty's pop-up at the Panorama City location in LA is a return to a pre-pandemic marketing tactic — in-person experiential — that has started to ramp up as people return to normal activities. The custom LED drive-thru, themed menu and limited-edition Pickle Rick Pickle Frosty could help Wendy's expand its campaign with user-generated content as fans visit and share their experiences on social media.
In a wider push to boost on-premise dining, Wendy's and Adult Swim partnered with Coca-Cola on two new flavors — Portal Time Lemon Lime and BerryJerryboree — that are available in its Freestyle machines at more than 5,000 Wendy's locations. The Freestyle offering has been part of Coke's digital and mobile investments that increased during the pandemic.
"Choice and customization are not fads — they're here to stay," Eric Lewis, marketing director for Coca-Cola Freestyle, said in the release.
While Wendy's teamed with "Rick and Morty" last year for an ad that promoted its breakfast offering, the fast food chain is not the first brand to tie-up with the edgy, meta cartoon. Notably, McDonald's faced backlash in 2017 after a poorly executed partnership with the show. Since then, "Rick and Morty" has been a more active participant in brand partnerships, from a Super Bowl-focused campaign with Pringles to collaborations with Turo, Wrangler and Miracle Seltzer.