We often look at most branded social interaction with a hearty dose of side-eye, given it’s all ultimately done in the name of commercial gain. But whether it’s brands talking to each other like they did in something like McWhopper, or it’s brands really connecting with someone, like Wendy’s did with #NuggsForCarter, sometimes they really can surprise and delight. And this week we were served up a prime example thanks to McDonald’s keen social team’s ability to turn a chance mention on cult hit show Rick and Morty into a social home run.
In the season three premiere of the animated series, the time-travelling grandfather-grandson duo used the long-discontinued 1998 Szechuan sauce from McD’s (to promote the Disney film Mulan) to distract aliens and make an intergalactic prison escape. Instead of sitting back, McDonald’s (along with agencies We Are Unlimited and Golin) doubled down and sent Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland a gallon of the sauce–to which the internet responded with an enthusiastic “Wubba lubba dub dub!” Onward!
McDonald’s “Rick and Morty Szechuan Sauce”
Holy shit. pic.twitter.com/vNEIfHTmNU
— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) July 30, 2017
What: McDonald’s gifted Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland with a gallon of its long-discontinued Szechaun sauce, after it was referenced on the show’s season three premiere.
Who: McDonald’s, We Are Unlimited, Golin
Why We Care: This is the kind of thing people remember. Especially people like the fanatical fans of this oddball comedy. It’s unexpected and gives a large corporation some much-needed goofball cred. It also shows how far a little creativity and engagement can really go when your ear is close enough to the ground, and your brand is able to react quickly enough.
Yeti “Arctic Red”
What: A new short film from the Austin-based cooler brand that profiles the thoughtful philosophy of a mountain sheep hunting outfitter.
Who: Yeti, Seacat Creative
Why We Care: My reasons for liking this piece are in more detail here, but essentially it comes down to what Yeti head of content Scott Ballew calls their aim to tell “unique stories that we as a brand are inspired by . . . to create a genuine connection to our viewers, who, in turn, can find an aspect of their personal journey that moves them.” Job done, once again.
What: A new ad for AB InBev’s Brahma, one of Argentina’s most popular beer brands.
Who: Brahma, Santo, Armando Bo
Why We Care: Director Armando Bo, who penned award-winning films Birdman and Biutiful, cleverly acknowledges our obsession with GIFs while asking us to be sure to take time out from the loop life to enjoy our friends IRL.
Three UK “Streaming Consciousness”
What: A short film from British telecom Three UK that takes our obsession with streaming video to its logically insane conclusion.
Who: Three UK, Gravity Road
Why We Care: If anything, this should be a PSA against too much screen time, but here it’s used as a witty wink to the addiction we’re all fighting off or already have. Who among us hasn’t even just whispered to themselves, “Watch one more?”
MET-Rx “Greater Than Gold”
What: A new ad in which Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette takes hundreds of the trophies he’s won over the years, and melts them down to make new weights for high school athletes.
Who: MET-Rx, Droga5
Why We Care: The ad itself is pretty standard, but it’s the act that impresses. It’s also a perfect progression from the campaign’s debut spot in which Fournette talks about how the only thing a trophy symbolizes is the need to move on, to push to the next level. This spot takes that idea, and turns it into a thoughtful gift to the next generation of aspiring athletes.