‘Better Call Saul’ Gave a Surprise Sales Boost to Cinnabon Thanks to 1 ‘Breaking Bad’ Line
Product placement on television shows is sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. But no matter how showrunners choose to work in products, it usually results in a huge boost in revenue for their partners. That’s precisely what happened with Cinnabon when it became a featured name on the Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul.
The best part about the Cinnabon story is that it all happened completely by accident. Like so many major plot points in Better Call Saul, the fact that future Jimmy is toiling as an Omaha mall employee is all due to one throwaway line from the final season of Breaking Bad.
Gene Takovic hides in plain sight as a Cinnabon manager in Omaha
After the dramatic events of Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman enlisted the services of Ed the Vacuum Repairman and slipped into a new identity far from Albuquerque. Fans saw through a series of flash-forward scenes in Better Call Saul that he’s masquerading as Gene Takovic and working at a nondescript mall in Omaha.
And he’s there because of Breaking Bad. In “Granite State,” Saul has a conversation with Walter White that ultimately seals his fate. “If I’m lucky, a month from now, best-case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha,” he tells Walt.
Showrunner Peter Gould didn’t mean for Cinnabon to become Saul’s fate
Better Call Saul showrunner Peter Gould, who also wrote for Breaking Bad, never thought that single line would become so prophetic.
“I just wrote that scene and it sounded funny, but it never occurred to me in a million years that we’d actually show what we show at the beginning of episode 1 [of Better Call Saul],” he told USA Today.
He continued: “Of course, you could always give yourself the out, like, ‘He’s just speculating; he could end up anywhere.’ But there was something so darkly delightful and so much fun about actually seeing his words realized, that we found it hard to resist.”
Cinnabon execs felt equally surprised and delighted. “We were as shocked as everyone else,” company spokesperson Loryn Franco said.
Cinnabon was happy to be associated with ‘Better Call Saul’
Product placements on Breaking Bad, a show about drug dealing, were a little tricky before the series exploded in popularity. However, by the time the prequel aired, the name recognition was enough to overcome any reservations.
The company created Better Call Saul themed boxes and a hashtag campaign with #SaulSelfie to promote the brand. One lucky fan won a year’s supply of Cinnabon baked goods.
AMC execs agreed that the brand partnership fit perfectly. “What’s terrific is Cinnabon is this all-American brand, it’s known to everyone, and it fits with the Saul Goodman character,” AMC’s executive vice president of marketing Linda Schupack said.
Odenkirk prepped by working at a real Cinnabon
Bob Odenkirk even spent time learning how to become a Cinnabon employee before filming began. “I had an iced-coffee drink Bob made, and it was quite delicious,” Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan recalled. “I think Bob has a second career awaiting him, managing a Cinnabon in real life.”
Catch up with Odenkirk before his career change and watch the final season of Better Call Saul, which is scheduled to debut in 2021.