Case Study

Adult Swim Branding and DVD Packaging

Challenge: The first DVD produced by Adult Swim was for their hit program "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." For the package and onscreen navigation, we used Warner Bros. required internal design and production channel. Though the design was adequate, the show creators and our creative team felt it didn't sync with the show's and network's unique style.

Our challenge was to develop an internal system for DVD and product design that would meet the network standards and be approved by higher-ups at Warner Bros.

Outcome: We gained approval from Warner Bros. to test if moving the design process in-house to Adult Swim's creative department could meet both budgets and timelines for DVD production. It did, and we gained more control of our brand's continuity through all channels, including retail packaging. Over time we even streamlined the process and won several design industry awards for our DVD packaging.

Role: Assistant Creative Director, Senior Designer, Digital Designer

The Brand

Adult Swim was launched in 2011 by Cartoon Network to reach teenagers and young adults who might be watching the network after 11 pm.

The network has grown to be a late night favorite for young adults and features animated shows, including original programming, syndicated shows, and Japanese anime, generally with minimal or no editing for content. The shows are geared toward an 18+ audience, in contrast to the child and pre-teen daytime programming on Cartoon Network. The shows and commercial breaks are usually interrupted by "bumps" or moments where short jokes or Internet fan feedback (in which negative feedback is sometimes responded to in a sarcastic manner) are broadcast in simple white letters over a black screen.

Where Things Fell Short

Though the DVD packaging followed Warner Bros. general packaging style guidelines, the design didn't fit the outside-the-box attitude Adult Swim audience members had come to expect from the network.

Warner Bros. agreed with us, and we used this opportunity to develop further DVD packaging creative in-house. This allowed us to create something special for show and network fans.

Telling the Aqua Teen Story

Every brand has a story, so why not tell it from the beginning. The creative team, production managers, and show creators decided to do exactly that. The show creators supplied sketches and storyboards from the first and second seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force to be used as the main visuals. From these we created an outside-the-box concept and design that would stand out from other more typical DVDs seen on retail shelves.

The New Design Standard

Having more control of the design process allowed us to allocate budgets and resources to each DVD release. Some would still have traditional clamshell designs, but most were able to have specialty packaging like slipcases, embossing, and transparent windows. The new Aqua Teen Hunger Force packaging incorporated a slipcase and a multi-panel internal disc holder.

AWARD-WINNING adult swim DVD projects

Package Design

After the success of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force DVD package design, we received the green light to develop DVD packaging for the current Harvey Birdman and Sealab 2021 season catalogs which went on to win several prestigious industry awards.

DVD On-screen Navigation

Along with the DVD packaging design, I created the on-screen navigation for each DVD collection to match the style of the outer box and discs.

DVD Marketing

I have designed 50 DVD packages for both Adult Swim. Many of these assignments included art direction and design for digital advertising, email marketing campaigns, billboards, promotional items, and in-store displays. Below are a few samples ads and out-of-home media that I created for the DVD marketing campaigns.