ikTok teens seem to be latching onto a core memory for most people who were kids or teens in the early 2000’s. If you’ve been scrolling through the For You Page of TikTok recently, you might have noticed short vignettes set to an upbeat song that ends with clear text that reads either [adult swim] or [as] – and you might be wondering what this means. These videos are paying homage to the commercial “bumps” utilized by the late-night program that aired from 9pm to 6am on the Cartoon Network: Adult Swim.
Adult Swim is the overnight program that would air on the Cartoon Network, it is home to adult cartoons such as Family Guy, American Dad, Adventuretime, and Rick and Morty. Commercial bumps are transition clips between commercial breaks these could be brief text sequences, random videos, or time-lapses. These bumps all end with the Adult Swim logo appearing somewhere within the action. You may be wonder what the point of them was, these bumps signified to the kids and parents watching Cartoon Network that the kid-appropriate cartoons are ending.
Some of the earliest bumps on the network were of a lifeguard yelling for kids to get out of the pool or were short clips of all older people swimming in a pool. These were in reference to the program's title “Adult Swim.”
After some time these bumps became more artistic and aesthetic in nature. It is this format that TikTokers have gravitated towards, creating their own versions of the artistic or downright wacky commercial bumps.
Adult Swim themselves got into the mix by posting their own version of the trend. Michael Cahill, vice president of on-air and social media for Adult Swim, told Insider: "We've been creating bumps on our air for over a decade. To see people having as much fun with them as we have over the years is incredible."
Why Does This Trend Work?
The biggest reason this trend has been able to take hold is that it is so open-ended. One of the key hallmarks of a successful TikTok trend is its adaptability. Many TikTok stars have specific niches (i.e. makeup, fashion, comedy, art, etc.) so being able to participate in trends while still playing to their niches is highly appealing to these creators and the audiences who have come to love them for their specific area of content.
Additionally, the trend taps into a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a key component of many trends that have picked up on TikTok, since it is rooted in common experiences. Who didn't fall asleep on the couch accidentally and wake up to cartoons they absolutely should not be watching? This is such a common life experience for the Millennial and older Gen Z generations that this is an additional key factor in the [as]. trend's success.
Now, TikTok creators are trying to one-up each other to create the best “bump” ; some are even doubling down on this trend by mixing it with earlier TikTok trends and creating short-term nostalgia, like this creator who mixed the [adultswim] trend with the viral baked feta pasta trend.
What do Marketers Need To Know?
Jumping on this trend is easy for brand marketers, you can fit this simple format for any brand or product, just be sure to use the audio that goes along with the format and be sure to conclude with [as]. Also, make the video quick and simple, these bumps were made to be super short and easily accessible to a wide audience. Plus, the TikTok algorithm, in general, prioritizes shorter and shorter videos, so keep simplicity at the top of your mind. Finally, to participate in this trend as a brand marketer, the more creatively you reveal the final [as] the more people will enjoy it!
Be sure to watch a few example trend videos before trying your own version. Many users are being pegged as “not understanding the assignment” if they post videos that don't quite understand the format or the point of the format. Remember when you are jumping into trends to take time to study them before making your own.
One other key point, some brand marketers may feel like it does not make sense to participate in a trend that potentially amplifies another brand. This is a valid thought when considering if joining in the [as] trend is right for your brand. At this point, the trend of TikTok has far surpassed the brand Adult Swim themselves. In fact, many creators and users feel like the trend has taken a life of its own – becoming TikTok feed bumps rather than TV commercial bumps. At this point, we would suggest jumping on the trend. Especially since you can participate with a simple [as] at the end rather than the full [adultswim]. We say go for it!
This trend shows the importance of nostalgia to bring people together and shows how simplicity is often the best way to go when originating a TikTok trend. For brands and marketers to jump into these trends early shows they are in tune with their target audience.