Im managing a Cinnabon in Omaha if im lucky.
Unknowingly, a single sentence, uttered by Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) in the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, laid the groundwork for one of Better Call Saul's most intriguing plots. The reference reintroduced itself to the baked goods brand, and by the time the AMC prequel premiered in 2015, Better Call Saul and Cinnabon had teamed up to make Saul's post-Breaking Bad dream a
Better Call Saul and Cinnabon team up to engage fans on social media, execute store show-related promotions, and create some of the most compelling, mysterious black and white scenes in the series.
Decider caught up with Michael Alberici, Cinnabons' VP of Marketing, to discuss the brand's iconic role in the series, Season 6's Cinnabon-heavy episode, and more.
Decider: Let's start with the beginning. What was the reaction at Cinnabon after that very first Breaking Bad mention in 2013?
Michael Alberici, Cinnabon's VP of Marketing: This was my first experience working at the company, but it's still the most popular story in the building to this day. It's funny, because the teams at the time were just blowing up, like, You were just mentioned on Breaking Bad! And what we did afterwards was tweeting to Bob Odenkirk and sharing a link to our careers page, that's how we've developed a relationship with him.
Amazing. I think I read somewhere that the Cinnabon quote from Breaking Bad was a shambles until they saw it. Was the show ever open after that?
[Laughs] Yes. The most famous throwaway line in our brands history. I believe thats what took place. We tweeted out the careers page, it received a ton of interest, and I imagine that as Better Call Saul began production of its first season, they reached out to us.
Bob Odenkirk has been seen icing, preparing buns, and maneging the Cinnabon counter like a pro in Genes scenes throughout the six seasons. Would you please share any insight into Odenkirk's training?
We send our operations team and our culinary team out on the job for every season, and we coach Bob and the other actors to serve as real-life crew members.
I love knowing that no one gets a script. It must be so thrilling to go home Monday nights and wonder if or how your brand will appear on the program.
Yes, I started working with Cinnabon in 2019 and I hear two things when I tell people that they like the brand or our cinnamon rolls. The second question is always about Better Call Saul, like do I know what's going to happen? Or curiosity questions. So as a fan of the show, it's been wonderful to see people connect well with our partnership.
I know there have been quite a few Cinnabon and Better Call Saul collaborations in the works. How have fans of the program reacted to them? Are they successful?
The one thing Cinnabon and Better Call Saul fans have in common is their desire for the other. We are so grateful to the Better Call Saul fan base for their efforts throughout the year. We respond to funny memes and tweets and they are often the most engaged social posts of the year for us.
Weve mentioned your social media team many times because they have truly masterminded the art of Better Call Saul tweets. How many people are there on this team?
The Cinnabon team is made up of three strong individuals. Our brand is well-known throughout the world. However, at its bare bones we are just a small group that works on all fronts. Our social media and public relations departments are true rockstar organizations.
Season 6, Episode 10 (Nippy) was very Cinnabon heavy. We meet this mall security guard, Frank played by the amazing Jim OHeir, who devours Cinnabons in most of his scenes. I wanted to highlight the fact that Frank eats his on a plate with a knife and fork. Does Cinnabon believe there is a right or wrong way to eat them?
[Laughs] There isn't a right or wrong way. Everyone has a preference. We have guests who like to sit down and enjoy every last bite via a knife and fork. We have guests who like to swallow it, you know, right in with their hands. I prefer to use my hands.
I think eating them with your hands speeds up the process a bit, so the show may need to add cutlery to ensure he takes a little longer. In the episode, Gene secretly times how long it takes Frank to eat a Cinnabon, and he averages around three minutes.
[Laughs] I would say that three minutes might be a little too fast for a company that is synonymous with bringing people together, savoring the moment, and taking the time to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Were a company that was primarily focused on bringing people together, savoring the moment, and embracing the simple pleasures in life.
Better Call Saul is a three-part program. We watch Jimmy McGill transform into Saul Goodman. We also learn about Gene, the former president of Breaking Bad. So what would you pick from the Cinnabon menu items that best represent each of those characters, and why?
[Laughs] That's a great question. Can I take a second to think about that one? Cause I definitely want to answer it. So start with Jimmy. We've used chocolate chip cookie dough to make our smallest cinnamon rolls. It's a sneaky, delectable treat a little like him.
And then take Saul. I think knowing that he is constantly on the move and his clients are extremely dependent on him, he might need a boost. So lets go with our Cinnamon Roll Cold Brew. And then for Gene, I mean, we have to go with our Classic Cinnamon Roll. Hed have to represent what has kept us alive for the last 37 years.
I thought Saul was like the Center of the Roll, because he likes to take shortcuts and get what he wants. And anyone buying that wants to violate the rules of a Classic Roll has to follow these principles.
[Laughs] Please make sure you include that information. That's fantastic.
Gene might have worked anywhere in the mall or the world, but he chose Cinnabon as his best-case scenario. What has this opportunity to work with Bob Odenkirk and his team, and to have played such a significant role in this series over the years, meant to Cinnabon?
Were a brand that has been around for 37 years, and we were fortunate to have been included in pop culture. But to have something at this scale with such a well-crafted television series from the writing to the editing to the actors we had no idea that giving permission for Season 1 would take us to where we are today.
When people approach us and ask them what they know about [Better Call Saul], they instantly become rock stars. Thats the most rewarding part of it, that it allows our team members to take on a greater sense of pride in working for the brand. We are extremely, very grateful for everything [the show] has done to keep our brand alive to generations who may not even know what Cinnabon is.
Cinnabon will likely miss the show as much as fans will.
We'll absolutely miss it. From our culinary staff to our operations team, we've done overnight shoots, traveled to New Mexico, prepared thousands of cinnamon rolls, and we're hoping to keep the engagement alive with the fans as long as they accept it. We're a playful brand and were just grateful for the chance to be a part of the Better Call Sauls moment.
Do you think Cinnabon will be tweeting the final details?
Yes, we will likely be live tweeting. Our social teams are fully geared up to go!
It's truly the end of an era. But do you think Cinnabon will honor Better Call Saul in some way? Perhaps a bun named after Gene?
I know, it's an odd thought! We can't say whether or not there's a possibility, but we'll always keep the door open for that.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
On AMC, Better Call Saul airs Mondays at 9/8c.