Rick and Morty: how to best redefine extraordinary irreverence!

3 min read

Wubba-lubba-dub-dub! Do you watch the popular, sci-fi animated comedy Rick and Morty? For those who do, this catchphrase voiced by co-creator of the show, Justin Roiland, pops up in their daily vocabulary. Rick and Morty Series 5 is showing at the moment.

So what do wubba-lubba-dub-dub and Rick and Morty have in common with VoiceTalks?

Well, one of the titular characters uses it frequently. It means “I’m in great pain, please help me.”

As random and nonsensical as the catchphrase is, serves as a great metaphor for Rick and Morty. The show is both quirky and irreverent, yet somehow fresh and layered with meaning. This unprecedented essence of the show allows it to do one thing very well — turn advertising on its head. Let’s dive into one of Rick and Morty’s multi-dimensional portals and see how this show does it.

Rick and Morty: image from one of the episodes
Image: Adult Swim

What is Rick and Morty?

It’s a darkly humorous animated series. It contains witty quips, and stories built on ridiculous premises. 

It has a fabulous voice cast, with Justin Roiland voicing both Rick and Morty, and co-creator Dan Harmon voicing other characters like Birdperson. And then there are special occasions when the voice cast features people like Elon Musk as Elon Tusk, and Stephen Colbert as Zeen Xanflorp.

Saying anything more about the show is difficult, given its massive scope and interstellar plotlines. 

Take for example, the Get Schwifty episode. A planet-sized alien head descends upon earth, demanding the people of Earth to, in the alien head’s words, “Show me what you got.”

The arrival of the alien head, known as a Cromulon, messes with Earth’s gravity and starts causing natural disasters, killing many across the world, including its prominent artists. It’s up to Rick and Morty to put on a live performance of a song, satisfying the Cromulon so it doesn’t destroy Earth.

The result is Rick and Morty’s famous song, Get Schwifty. You can see how it’s hard to explain Rick and Morty, each episode is just full of ingenuity and specific ideas.

But with at least this context, we can begin to understand why Rick and Morty is so interesting, and how it has influenced advertising.

The show advertises really well

Rick and Morty: image of the main characters falling through a portal
Image: Adult Swim

Rick and Morty advertises well because it’s so strong in its unique identity, its style of voice (thanks to the fantastic voice cast and writing), and its unconventional comedy. It creates high-impact, memorable messaging.

The show’s advertising status is an ironic one. Rick and Morty is a show that’s so irreverent and counterculture to the mainstream. But at the same time, attracts the attention of popular companies, and partners with them to make ads.

Before you yell “sellout!”, know that Rick and Morty somehow manages to keep its charm and borderline-offensive grace in these ads.

For example, the Playstation 5 ad. It starts with Rick Sanchez saying “Alright Morty go, talk about the thing, they paid us a lot,” as he counts what we can assume is the payment for the ad. Rick continues to chime in with the selling points the ad is supposed to mention as Morty talks about the video game console. It’s almost a mockery of an ad.

Rick and Morty’s advertising style is embarrassingly candid, daring, and fourth-wall breaking. It’s true to the show, it’s different, and it works. That’s why Rick and Morty has been able to advertise with notable companies like Pringles, Instagram, Wendy’s and Old Spice.

How do they do it?

Rick and Morty: image of the show's splash screen
Image: Adult Swim

Their marketing success relies on animation and fantastic acting from the voice cast. That, and its genius writing. Animation is booming, and when packaged with incredible storytelling and voice acting, the reach of it as a marketing tool is greatly increased.

On the other hand, the formula behind the genius writing for the show is inconceivable. When one of the main characters, Rick, is the smartest person in the universe, and always has the right sci-fi contraption to get out of any situation, the options are endless.

What happens then is that the series become this amorphous thing, capable of fitting into any shape while still retaining its unique identity.

Then there’s the voice cast. You could say it’s what really glues the show together. Justin Roiland is the star of the show here; he voices the gritty, condescending, lower-pitched voice of Rick, and the high-pitched, stammering, anxiety-filled voice of Morty.

The voices are far from what you would imagine to be professional voice over material, with Rick’s mid-sentence burps and Morty’s ceaseless stammering. But in the Rick and Morty universe, the world revolves around them, and their voices are what truly count. Genuineness — which is often sought in voice overs — is not lost, but is instead strengthened with their voices.

Final thoughts

How can we reconcile the series’ genre-breaking animation and voice over style with the traditional needs of a voice over? We don’t. The style is Rick and Morty.

The formula is far from reproducible. But if there’s one takeaway, it’s that good animation, genius scriptwriting, and fantastic voice over can carry awareness and attention really far.

But there’s something else that’s needed. It’s almost indescribable. It’s the creative spark and the ideas unique to our own minds that make a message truly special. If anything, we can use Rick and Morty as inspiration.

And when that spark of genius flashes in your mind for your next animation ad, scootle on over to Voice123. Voice123 has a roster filled with brilliant character voice actors who can provide memorable performances. They might just be the Rick & Morty you need!

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