Michael Ouweleen, a 20-year Turner networks veteran, has been named President of Adult Swim. The appointment is effective this summer when former Freeform president Tom Ascheim joins Warner Bros. as President, Kids, Young Adults and Classics. Ouweleen will report to him.
Ouweleen, Previously EVP/ Chief Marketing Officer, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, was named interim president of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and TCM in November 2019 following the exit of Christina Miller. Ouweleen’s job morphed into interim head of the Warner Bros. Kids, Young Adults and Classics Division once the unit was formed earlier this month and Ascheim’s appointment was announced. Ouweleen will continue in that capacity for the next couple of months, reporting to Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, Warner Bros.
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Ouweleen is well liked and respected within the Turner family and a veteran executive who knows the Adult Swim brand inside and out. While serving as creative director for the Adult Swim block, Ouweleen co-created, co-executive produced and co-wrote one of its first shows, Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, starring Gary Cole and Stephen Colbert. He currently serves as executive producer on the Adult Swim series Birdgirl.
Adult Swim has become a flagship Turner brand with its robust slate of animation targeting young adults that not only has done well on the linear network for the past decade, but has created valuable assets, led by mega hit Rick and Morty, which can be exploited on streaming. (Rick and Morty is streaming on Hulu and also will be one of the cornerstones of HBO Max’s adult animated slate).
With Adult Swim founder and longtime head of programming Mike Lazzo recently retiring after more than 40 years, Ouweleen’s appointment was likely a step to shore up the important asset with a senior executive who has a creative background and carries Adult Swim’s DNA. Additionally, Ascheim’s newly established portfolio is so vast, there could be more hires of executives to run some of the key units on it.
In his permanent position, Ouweleen will be responsible for all aspects of content planning, development, windowing, marketing and creative for Adult Swim and its properties globally. He’ll also oversee linear programming, streaming, digital products, live events and mobile games related to Adult Swim shows, characters and other IP.
“It’s fitting that Michael has been named head of Adult Swim as he was one of the platform’s founders,” said Sarnoff. “He’s got animated blood running through his veins, and his humor and comedic sensibilities are a big part of Adult Swim’s success. This promotion is most deserved and will help us strategically grow this crucial part of our young adult business.”
Prior to his current position as interim president of Warner Bros.’ Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies Ouweleen was chief marketing officer for Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim, where he led an in-house staff of writers, producers, designers, marketers and analysts who create all marketing, branding, promotion, sponsored promotion, event and social creative.
Ouweleen has been a primary driver of Cartoon Network’s global brand and a principle force behind its strategy and creative for more than 20 years. During his tenure, he’s held both senior content and brand positions at Cartoon Network and helped frame and launch Adult Swim and Boomerang (linear and OTT).
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