What Rick and Morty can Teach us About Marketing

Rick and Morty is a great TV show. It’s weird, fun, and has a great subculture around it. It’s fan base isn’t quite as big as some other shows, but wow, they are extremely loyal. You may be asking, “Michael, why are you talking about some random sci-fi cartoon in your blog?” First, because I love Rick and Morty. Second, just watch this clip and trust me that this is going somewhere.

Season 3 episode 1 of Rick and Morty premiered in April for April Fools’ but wasn’t officially ran until this Sunday. However, when that joke originally appeared, it hit huge.  Google trends had searches for Szechuan sauce reaching 100 which is peak popularity in fact, and you can see it spiked again for the official launch this weekend.

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McDonald’s responded at the time by tweeting Rick’s catchphrase, all the while plotting their next move. When season 3 officially premiered on Sunday night, McDonald’s had sent this to one of the show’s creators, Justin Roiland, and set up this contest on Twitter. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll recognize all of the little inside jokes on it as well as the copy specifically tailored to speak to the show.

Justin tweeting about this blew up, and as you can see on the Reddit thread, it’s still going.

More importantly, it made a lot of new loyal McDonald’s fans really fast. This all because McDonald’s took the time to truly understand this subset of customers and connect with them.

Rick and Morty fans, like many other subcultures and small niche fandoms, aren’t a large group of people, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in excitement.

Rick and Morty isn’t the only niche fandom that’s out there though for brands to tap into. Think about Red Bull and their relationship with extreme sports. Extreme sports are a super niche audience. But, Red Bull owns that market, and the loyalty and crazy stunts from their athletes has turned them into a full market product. Think about Supernatural, Doctor Who, Firefly, the list goes on and on and on of these really powerful niches for brands to work themselves into.

Total market approaches are never going to die, and they shouldn’t. However, we need to recognize the opportunity, even for large brands, to tap into and really understand a subculture or niche market to create small but very loyal followings who will turn and yell at everyone else to get your product or use your service.

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