Look Who’s Breaking Bad

Lauren Parker

(This post is spoiler-free!)

At Peppercomm, we often talk about “Spreadable Media,” which our Director of Audience Engagement, Sam Ford, describes as the “dispersing of content widely through both formal and informal networks, some approved, many unauthorized.” Did we mention he’s an academic?

Spreadable media starts with original content that is produced and then so captures the interest of an audience that they take it and make it their own. One example is the dark, gritty, amazing, addicting AMC show, Breaking Bad. The program centers around an over-qualified high school chemistry teacher who learns he has cancer. In an effort to make extra money for his family, he decides to take his scientific knowledge and start cooking and selling meth. Not only have millions of fans tuned in for the previous 4.5 seasons, but they have taken the concept and created fresh – and often unconventional – new content and spread it across many channels using a variety of mediums. Here are just a few examples:

Stephen Colbert created a mash-up of Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey, proving that even the elite members of society may need to break bad.

The Simpsons riffed on the story line swapping crystal meth for blue cupcakes.

Even a middle school created a video with the characters’ likeness, though the “Meth Lab” stands for “Math Enrichment for Testing & Homework.”

There are Breaking Bad Valentines . . .


And tatoos.

breaking bad tatoo


The key to spreadable media is encouraging and empowering fans to take what you or your brand has created and allow them to interpret it, personalize it and own it. When you give your audience that kind of control, innovation can flourish in unexpected places.

Are you planning to tune in to the season premiere on Sunday at 9/8CT?