Last night, fans of the hit cartoon series Rick and Morty were ecstatic to find their favorite anti-government alcoholic mad scientist back in action. After a long awaited return, the Adult Swim show premiered Episode One of its third season. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but just know that this episode was, as fans would say, peak Wubalubadubdub!
With a Side of Shade
However, aside from the humorous entertainment, this episode also came at a perfect time to assist in the recent Twitter feud between fast food giants McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Ok, you might be wanting to know a little background right about now, huh?
On Thursday, March 30th, the McDonald’s corporation announced that they would begin using fresh beef to prepare their signature Quarter Pounder burger in select locations, planning to extend to all locations in 2018. Well, one of McD’s top competitors, Wendy’s, had a little fun with it. Wendy’s responded promptly via Twitter saying: “So you’ll still use frozen beef in MOST of your burgers in ALL of your restaurants?” OUCH! Am I right?
The resurrected super sauce garnered over one million impressions on Twitter and six million mentions on Facebook.
The tweet immediately went viral across virtually every medium, which as you can imagine didn’t fare well for McDonald’s marketing. Everyone from meme pages to national news outlets was echoing the same sentiment everyone was feeling: “LMFAO BTFO!” Myself included. I know I’m supposed to be neutral, but so long as the Baconator stays on the menu, I’m going to be a Team Wendy’s loyalist.
Last night, McDonald’s social media cred experienced an impressive recovery by getting a major shoutout in the season premiere of Rick and Morty. The main character Rick had a bit in the episode where he praised a McDonald’s menu item, and, at the end, announced that he and his sidekick Morty would spend the next confirmed NINE SEASONS of the show in search for that menu item. But the shoutout wasn’t in regards to the fresh beef Quarter Pounder. In fact, the menu item mentioned isn’t even on the menu at all.
Apparently, in 1998, McDonald’s released a new dipping sauce for their McNuggets called Szechuan sauce. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it. It was released as a limited time promotion for the new Disney film, Mulan.
Throughout the episode, Rick and a few supporting characters complimented the Mulan sauce to such an extent that even my mouth was watering. The resurrected super sauce garnered over one million impressions on Twitter and six million mentions on Facebook. These stats represent the first 6 hours after the initial East Coast airing. Talk about marketing comeback of the year!
McDonald’s has yet to make any official response to this phenomenon, so it’s unknown whether or not this was a paid promotion. But this surge in interest is bound to lead to some reactionary McNugget sales. The demand is there now, and it’s only expected to grow. Especially if this condiment cameo becomes a recurring theme in this incredibly popular series.
I wouldn’t be surprised if McDonald’s relaunched the sauce in partnership with the Rick and Morty brand. But, due to the adult nature of the show, a direct partnership is, in my opinion, unlikely. Either way, there are two things everyone should learn from this story. One, McDonald’s apparently loves to discontinue their most beloved products (McRib & Mulan sauce). And two, when it comes to social media marketing, you never know who’s going to come out on top.