If you suddenly have a craving for McDonalds chicken nuggets dunked in an obscure dipping sauce from 1998, youre probably a Rick and Morty fan.
The cult favorite animated series surprised fans on Saturday night by airing the highly anticipated season 3 premiere unannounced. Like most episodes, it was full of references not only to prior jokes from the show, but also to oddball stuff like Shoneys restaurants. But the bit that really resonated with fans was Ricks sudden obsession with the limited-edition Szechuan sauce McDonalds released to promote Disneys Mulan.
The beauty of the reference is that its so bizarrely obscure, like finding a bit of product tie-in gold in a wasteland of marketing drivel.
Now McDonalds almost assuredly did not know this little plug was coming (and that fact is critical for the pure beauty of this). Rick and Morty fans have already popped up a change.org petition to bring back the sauce, and the shows official Twitter account jokingly reached out.
you wanna get in on this?
— Rick (((and Morty))) (@RickandMorty) April 2, 2017
McDonalds recently bolstered social media team shot back with an appropriate, if slightlyawkward, reply.
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) April 2, 2017
Followed by a seemingly positive response from a McDonalds corporate chef.
— Mike Haracz (@Mike_Haracz) April 3, 2017
So now we stand at a precipice. Will McDonalds leave it at that, or will it give itself over to the whims of viral media?
Heres our unsolicited advice: McDonalds, make the damn sauce.
Its no secret that McDonalds has been struggling in recent years as Americaand especiallymillennialsgravitate toward fresher options from grocery stores and fast-casual chains like Chipotle or Panera Bread. The hamburger behemoth has tried hard to win back customers with all-day breakfast and by announcing some of its burgers would be made with fresh not frozen beef(to which Wendys got in a good social media jab).
But what Rick and Morty has served the fast food chain on a silver platter is a surefire way to endear itself to that fussy audience of 18- to 35-year-olds (only one in five of which has ever even tried a Big Mac).
Companies try to manufacture this kind of serendipitous audienceinteraction all the time. Take, for instance, when Reebok attempted to tap into the Aliens franchise fandom by offering Alien Stomper boots like those worn in the 1986 movie. The shoes launched on a completely made-upholiday meant to mimic Back the Future Day (which celebrated a real date from the film). Unfortunately any excitement Reebok drummed up was quickly destroyed after it 1) failed to list Ripleys iconic shoes in womens sizes, and 2) made so few pairs almost nobody could get them. Instead of being a heroic deliverer of cool stuff, Reebok just managed to piss off the very people it was trying to reach.
But in this case, fans are already askingMcDonalds for Mulan sauce as part of an inside joke. All McDonalds has to do is recognize that the cool thing to do is deliver the punchline by bringing the sauce back. Its an opportunity to tell millennials that youre not just a giant, soulless corporationyoure a giant, soulless corporation that goes out of its way to give us something thats harmlessly fun.
If theres any question about whether or not people really want the sauce, just look at Twitter.
I just want that McDonalds Mulan Szechuan dipping sauce
— Jaren Jackson Jr. (@therealjnari_) April 2, 2017
— Ben (@BFluke5) April 3, 2017
Damn it Rick & Morty. Now I'm not going to be able to leave this life without knowing what that freaking sauce tastes like #szechuansauce
— Matt Crawford (@Tekking101) April 2, 2017
— BlockHeadGaming (@TeamBlockHead) April 3, 2017
Dont mess this up, Micky Ds. If you do itright, well all definitely want fries with that.