I had already changed out of my sensible flats, pantyhose, and business casual separates and into my Converse High Tops and shorts. It was nighttime. I flung my backpack purse over my shoulder, and I was out the door. Laundry, cleaning, and all other forms of adulting were going to have to wait.
I, along with dozens of other full-grown adults, was going to the park to watch cartoons.
TGIF for Adults
Adult Swim ([adult swim] or [as], as it is branded) is the nighttime alter ego of the children’s cable network, Cartoon Network. During this programming block, which runs from 8pm to 6am, when the kids are safely tucked into bed, the adults come out to play.
Young and not-so-young adults, who have yet to lose their love of cartoons and who have acquired a taste for the strange, the absurd, and the crude, tune into Adult Swim’s mix of original and syndicated shows by the millions.
According to the New York Times, “The ratings results for the channel have been undeniably impressive: Adult Swim is the top-rated cable network in total day ratings among viewers in the two younger-adult categories, viewers between the ages of 18 and 34 and 18 and 49.”
I have no doubt. My fellow cartoon-loving grown-ups and I just keep on coming back to [adult swim] since its debut in 2001.
Not since ABC’s TGIF ruled television during the 90s has a network programming block been so popular. These days, TGIF viewers have grown up and we’ve replaced reruns of Family Matters with Family Guy and Boy Meets World with Bob’s Burgers. Much like TGIF was a calling card to kids in the 90s, Adult Swim is the prescription for youthful, adults-only fun.
From the beginning, we got sucked in by the whimsy and irreverence of shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Robot Chicken, and the Boondocks. And now that Rick and Morty is a thing and there are new episodes of Squidbillies on the horizon, it’s starting to seem like there’s no going back. What are we older millennials going to do, start watching the news? (Cue the laugh track).
Cartoon Network knows this and they are capitalizing on the program block’s popularity in a big way.
[adult swim] Branding Is on Point
Given the fact that almost one third of millennials have cut the cable cord, opting to stream TV and movies instead, Adult Swim’s success is astounding.
For 16 years [adult swim] has been steadily building its brand and connecting with advertisers’ most coveted demographic. And now Cartoon Network is doing something that no other network has figured out how to do: move from the TV screen to real life.
A few months ago, Adult Swim’s Rickmobile pulled into A-town. Obviously, my Lazy Millennial friend and I had no choice but to wait in line for hours with dozens of other fans, hoping to bag exclusive Rick and Mortymerch. Our mission was less than successful, but we never felt that our time was wasted because we got to see and snap a few pics with the Rickmobile in person. Now, Adult Swim is up to new tricks, and, as per uge, these tricks are not for kids.
That’s why on Wednesday night, after a long day at the office, a friend and I shrugged off the 9-to-5 by journeying over to Atlanta’s Piedmont Park to catch Adult Swim on the Green.
Adult Swim’s new promotion tour is creating an IRL opportunity for fans to connect with the network, each other, and even some of the voice actors of our favorite [as] shows. Not to mention, there’s the opportunity to score some sweet [adult swim] loot and freebies.
Here’s the deal: for the reasonable cost of $5 each, my friend and I got passes to the event where we indulged in field games like croquet, cornhole, and oversized Jenga. After checking out the silent auction and spinning the prize wheel, we settled down on the grass with our free popcorn and candy to watch an unaired episode of Squidbilliesas well as the never-before-seen pilots for shows like Hot Streets and Tender Touches.
It was the perfect mix of childhood fun and adult humor.
This is How Cable Can Survive
Adult Swim on the Green is a burgeoning success. They’ve already hit Atlanta, with tour stops planned for D.C., NYC, Philly, Charleston and Boston. While other cable networks are scratching their heads, wondering how in the world they are going to stay current, Adult Swim is creating opportunities by pioneering unique fan-focused events that adult-cartoon enthusiasts need no incentive to share on social media.
Adult Swim on the Green is a branding goldmine, with untold potential for connecting with fans and selling merchandise. Other networks better be paying close attention if they don’t want to go the way of the Dinosaurs, by which I mean both the prehistoric animals and the 90s TV show.
This column originally appeared at The Foundation for Economic Education, and is reprinted by permission.