The people who work at Adult Swim are self-proclaimed music nerds, eager to incorporate the jams they listen to into the network’s shows. And often, that includes tunes their viewers have never heard of.
“We learned, to our surprise, that people view us as a trusted arbiter of music and look forward to which artists we might bring to their attention,” said Jason DeMarco, SVP and creative director of on-air, Adult Swim.
It’s with that “discovery music” philosophy that the network has teamed up with BMW, and is inviting fans to join them in Palm Springs for Adult Swim x Desert Gold, a two-day poolside fan event featuring live music, swag, screenings of new shows and unaired episodes, and a look at the car company’s new, gold, BMW X2 Sports Activity Vehicle.
Particularly in the last decade, the rise of online and mobile communication “has allowed fans to tell us what they’re thinking at any time,” DeMarco said, and music has played an important role from the network’s beginning.
“They love being able to watch Adult Swim and hear music they have never heard,” DeMarco said. “It was a fairly natural extension in terms of doing music stuff out in the real world.”
Adult Swim in no stranger to holding events such as college tours and spring break festivities, and is expanding its live events offerings in October with the launch of the weekend-long Adult Swim Festival, featuring two stages and a massive marketplace in downtown Los Angeles.
As the network continues to grow its activations, it has discovered that its fan base is passionate enough that the team can create a fun experience for people to gather, and then just kind of get out of the way.
“We’ve definitely encountered that ‘on the ground’ is a whole other level of being able to meet fans where they live, and let them experience something that can’t get just by watching the shows,” DeMarco said.
But from a strategic marketing perspective, Desert Gold marks the first time Adult Swim has built this type of on-the-ground activation in collaboration with a brand partner in Palm Springs.
Partnering with BMW
Tapping into the spirit of the car, the event will feature co-branded signage, creative brand integrations and swag that celebrates the gold color of BMW’s new vehicle.
The festival goes hand-in-hand with BMW’s two-month sponsorship of the Adult Swim Singles Program featuring new releases each week from various artists, often in the indie rock, hip-hop and metal genres, as well as “New Music Friday,” a weekly co-branded segment on the program’s live-stream show Stupid Morning Bullshit.
The broader partnership includes branded content across television, digital and social platforms, designed to connect BMW to Adult Swim’s millennial audience through programming and activations anchored in music, that expose the younger demographic to the idea that they could own a BMW.
Adult Swim has also had previous sponsorships from other car companies, with successful results.
“The common misconception about 18-34-year-olds is they’re going to buy a cheap car, and in the past we haven’t seen that to be the case,” DeMarco said.
By the same token, many luxury car companies aren’t necessarily thinking about the typical Adult Swim viewer, so teaming up with the network for a fun, cool experience provides an opportunity for BMW to break away from any preconceptions about its brand, and market the company in a different way.
“They are obviously looking to hit that demo they feel may have been underserved,” DeMarco said.
Piggybacking on Coachella
Desert Gold will take place at Palm Spring’s Ace Hotel & Swim Club from April 12-13, with the hopes of drawing people headed to the nearby annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, running from April 13-22.
“I think it was just an easy fit, because music fans are already in that area,” DeMarco said. “Everything around Coachella tends to get ancillarily music stuff, so for us it made sense.”
The event is free to fans ages 21 and older, with the purchase of a $20 beverage voucher. Entrance will be first-come, first-served, space permitting, and beverage vouchers are available for purchase in advance.
Down the line, DeMarco envisions a growth of on-the-ground festivals, as well as sponsorship and marketing opportunities.
Because Adult Swim knows how to throw a good party.
“It’s not just some band we’re paying to stand on stage with a BMW logo behind them,” he said. The activation is about creating a legitimately fun experience where people get to interact with Adult Swim on new levels, and walk away happy and satisfied.
“Our hope,” DeMarco said, “is we can do this a lot more.”
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