When conjuring names for their new stop motion adult animated series, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios co-founders Matt Senreich, John "Harv" Harvatine IV, Seth Green and Eric Towner submitted 80 different titles to Cartoon Network. While an early submission—Free Paid Advertising For Popular Toy Companies—was probably one of the most appropriate, executives passed.
"Robot Chicken was the terrible one that stuck," explained Senreich, laughing. "But that's what we're trying to do: We’re trying to show off how cool your toy is."
Now wrapping up season seven and green-lit for season eight, Robot Chicken's success stems from the tender love and care it takes to find hilarious ways to put toys in everyday situations and absurdly dark scenarios. And in a twist, for the first time the creators will feature a character they created (Bitch Pudding) rather than an actual toy in a new episode that will air on Sunday.
Though each season takes a grueling 14 months to make, for the guys working on the show, it's just an excuse to play with toys. And although the personas of the toys or characters are mocked, Senreich believes it's great marketing. "It's okay to make fun of yourself in this day and age. If anything it's publicity and pretty free publicity in a way because it makes your characters look cool to the older kids," he said.
"That kind of validates (marketers) in pop culture," Towner added. "You have to have a certain popularity to click with the audience."
That knack for playing with pop culture also explains why the production house has attracted name brands like DC Comics, Hasbro and—Senreich's holy grail— Lucasfilm. Robot Chicken produced three Star Wars specials after the company reached out to them, saying how much it loved its parody.
"To have Lucasfilm say they saw one of our sketches and they loved it and George showed it at a board meeting was a very surreal moment," Senreich said."“And then when they said they would be willing to do a special, let alone three specials with us, it was life-altering for me."
Stoopid Buddy Stoodios doesn't only create branded entertainment for the show. It recently produced a 26-episode web series for WWE and Mattel called Slam City and a 10-episode digital series for Lexus' L Studio called Friendship All-Stars. Also in the works are ads for Denny's and Gumby. Its most daunting task, however, was creating the closing credits for The Lego Movie.
“That was kind of intimidating because the animation was so good!” Harvatine recalled. "And then at the end it was like, 'All right, here’s a bunch of Legos. Now do your stop motion thing.'"