TikTok’s newest trend is big news for Cartoon Network. With over 1.1 billion uses of the hashtag “adultswim” and 82.7 million of “adultswimbump,” a recent viral trend lets users make their own Adult Swim style bumps along to a song by Vano 3000.

The nostalgic trend invites users of the popular video app to recreate the “bumps” that became popular on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s late night programming block. The bumps became synonymous with Adult Swim programming as they often seemed like short art films. The bumps featured bizarre jokes and scenarios through text, time-lapse, b-roll and other avant-garde camera work and editing. The bumps often used remixed versions of songs and featured the letters “AS” or the words “Adult Swim” in brackets. While each bump ended with the letters, how they would appear would change. Often the letters would appear through an unconventional source such as steam on a mirror or a sunburn on a back. 

TikTok users are now making their own bumps in the same style, matching the brevity and surrealist tone of the originals. While the action in the TikToks changes from user to user, the sound is always from user Vano 3000, who’s handle is @supvano. He originally uploaded the sound on May 23 with a video of him eating a sandwich with the caption “Mukbang with Vano 3000.” The sound samples BADBADNOTGOOD’s song “Times Moves Slow”and has a dream-like quality to it. The day after posting the original video with the audio, he posted a second video with text saying, “this sound works with everything…. Try it out. [Adult Swim]” over a video of a person in a Spider-Man costume walking through the Times Square-42nd Street subway station. 

He then posted several other videos in the style of bumps to his sound all ending in [Adult Swim.] Eventually others started to mirror his trend in droves, including the Adult Swim TikTok account which made their own version. The video from the official Adult Swim account has over 14 million views, 2.7 million likes and is simply captioned “We see you #adultswim #adultswimbump #vano3000.” Vano 3000 could not be reached for comment.

“We’ve been creating bumps on our air for over a decade,” said Michael Cahill, vice president of on-air and social media for Adult Swim. “To see people having as much fun with them as we have over the years is incredible.”

While many millennial users of the app may be doing the trend out of simple nostalgia, the prevalence of the trend has opened up the branding of the bumps to a wide and young audience. Even though Adult Swim appears on a major network and is home to fan favorite shows such as Rick and Morty and recently, Tuca & Bertie, the programing was always seen to be out there and catering to those in the know. Adult Swim shows now stream on the WarnerMedia owned HBO Max, but without the nostalgia bumps or late night hours, synonymous with the brand to millennial viewers who watched the programing on cable. The trend is not only boosting simple brand awareness, it also encompases the brand style. 

Brands often use TikTok to promote themselves. Branded challenges and sponsored hashtags are common on the app. Most brands use a branded hashtag to show off a challenge that features their product or uses influencers to market the brand through their videos. However, this trend is different. While Adult Swim has now done the challenge, they didn’t originate it or promote it. This trend acts more as free advertising rather than a branded tie in. This may be the reason that it has been able to go truly viral. Users feel like they are part of an authentic and creative trend, made by them for them, rather than a trend a brand has paid for. This poses an issue for other brands hoping to pull off similar advertising through an organic trend.

By Mindy