R.I.P. Rickroll

For those of you who haven’t used the Internet during the past year, “Rickrolling” refers to the practice of enticing unsuspecting Web surfers to click on a link to a video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” by ‘80s heartthrob Rick Astley.

After the prank snowballed online—spawning an election-season “Barackrolling” variation and even mutating into a live stunt at basketball games and other events—Cartoon Network pulled off what we can only hope was the ultimate (as in final) Rickroll during last week’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

What’s more, the network managed to enlist Rick Astley himself to emerge from its Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends float and interrupt a rousing puppet chorus of the song Best Friend. The game Astley, now 42, even mustered an awkward smile when one of the characters exclaimed, “I like Rickrolling!”

Watch the clip below:


Joe Swaney, director of publicity for Cartoon/Adult Swim, credited marketing manager Michael Grover. “Michael had actually been Rickrolled online a couple of times,” says Swaney. “[He] thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be hilarious to Rickroll ourselves at the Thanksgiving Day Parade?’”

Although Astley previously had declined to accept an MTV Europe Music Award in honor of his newfound notoriety, he agreed to appear in the stunt, which—unlike a certain guerilla marketing campaign Cartoon attempted in Boston—went off smoothly and didn’t cause panic in the streets of New York.

Says Swaney, “The neat thing is how there are a bunch of people online commenting on how great it is that something from the Internet world has finally made it into something as mainstream as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

Of course, there were also those who sniffed at the whole affair, including a commenter on the tech blog Gizmodo, who asked, "Was there a shark on that float? Did he jump it?"

With Mariel Bird