Adult Swim Creates New Branded Content Series for Truth

Adult Swim has created a branded-content video series designed to tell its young viewers the smoky truth about cigarette marketing.

Anti-smoking campaign Truth turned to Adult Swim because of the Turner Broadcasting-owned network's ability to create programming that influences millennial culture.

“We are firm believers that entertainment can be a very powerful vehicle to create social change, especially in times like we’re living in today,” said Eric Asche, CMO of the Truth Initiative. “Being able to make people laugh while communicating a very serious social issue is really an art form and because of that we’re really proud of the partnership with Adult Swim.”

Following on last year’s Cat Dick Mysteries campaign, Adult Swim created five 60-second episodes of Rainbow Lane, which looks and sounds suspiciously like Sesame Street and start running Monday.

The humans on Rainbow Lane teach Wally, a puppet, lessons about how Big Tobacco targets poor neighborhoods, African-American neighborhoods, handicapped individuals and the LGBT community (making the campaign appropriate for Pride Month).

In one episode, Wally sees a white character walking through a block with a toy store on the corner, while a brown character walks through a block that's similar, except for a tobacco store on the corner.

Truth thinks that information on how tobacco marketing to those vulnerable groups leads to higher levels of addiction and illness will be a powerful motivator.

“We do think the entire generation cares that this exploitation is taking place and so that’s the insight. The population at large gets very upset about these types of tactics. They see it as problematic and not OK,” Asche said. “The more we can showcase who is behind the product and their tactics, the more we have an educated consumer who makes the right choice.”

The branded-content episodes will air during commercial time on Adult Swim as part of Turner’s Native Plus format, said Serge Masyra, senior VP of emerging consumers content partnerships, Turner Ignite.

During shows, the Truth video will get teased. Then an episode of the Rainbow Lane branded content will air in an exclusive pod with one of Truth’s spot.

“We try to make it the cleanest experience possible for our viewers, with very little clutter. We’ve eliminated all tagged tune-in spots, except for a couple of our shows, that are acquired shows, but everything else that lives on our air in terms of partnerships with advertisers is strictly branded content,” said Masyra. “It just creates a more engaging environment.”

The Truth campaign is running in a variety of Adult Swim shows, not necessarily those with high concentrations of LGBT or African-American viewers.

“There’s almost a badge of honor that when you’re an Adult Swim viewer, you don’t necessarily say I’m a fan of any one show. You’re a fan of Adult Swim,” Masyra said. “There’s a little bit of trust that comes with our success and when the vierwers see the content, they believe in it.”

Some of the branded-content episodes will run online and as part of a social media push using Turner’s Launchpad. Adult Swim has also created a special “sizzle reel” of the campaign’s highlights for social media.

"So while Adult Swim is on the air from 8 p.m. to six in the morning, this will live all day long,” Masyra said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.