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6 examples of brands winning on TikTok

If there’s one social media platform buzzing right now, it’s TikTok, a space that allows users to create and share short lip-sync, comedy and talent videos.  

With an audience of almost half a billion users in its two year existence, and a +237% monthly growth rate between 2017-2018, brands are now thinking about how they can tap into it. 

The platform, which is owned by Chinese tech giant Byedance, and was merged with Musical.ly in 2018, has proven wildly successful among Chinese consumers. This has since transferred to the US, with 2.6m actively users taking to the platform in February alone, placing it as the most downloaded app in the country during Q1. The loyalty of Generation Z and Millennials have been driving usage particularly, with 66% of users reportedly under the age of 30. 

While the likes of Snapchat and Instagram are being questioned – both in terms of popularity on the one hand, and functionality on the other, TikTok has swooped in to grab some of the key market share. Importantly, it’s doing so by thinking about functionality first – its recommendations are much more accurate than other social media platforms, for instance, meaning viewers get better content tailored to their interests, which spurs advocacy for the app further. It has also added the functionality of shopping by allowing brands to drive users to ecommerce-enabled microsites that open directly within the TikTok app. 

As a result, we’re seeing brands and retailers taking to TikTok to push products, increase engagement and drive loyalty among younger consumers. Here are six examples of those incorporating it into their marketing strategy today…

Hero Cosmetics
Hero Cosmetics holy grail patches

Direct-to-consumer skincare brand, Hero Cosmetics, utilized TikTok in its new ‘Get Ready with Me’ campaign, featuring 20 creators sharing their morning routines. The campaign was targeted at Gen Zers, and plugged into a #schoolsurvivivalkit hashtag to tie it to back to school essentials. The videos, which reached 4.3m users, had a 12% engagement rate compared to only 4.5% for Instagram, the brand said.

Uniqlo
Uniqlos #UTPlayYourWorld campaign

Apparel retailer Uniqlo teamed up with Tiktok as part of its #UTPlayYourWorld campaign to promote its 2019 spring/summer collection. Users were encouraged to upload videos wearing their favourite outfits from the collection and would be entered into a competition to get their video played in store. The campaign was available for those in the US, France, Japan and Taiwan and generated over 600m views on the platform.

Burberry
Burberry Fall 2019 campaign

Even luxury brands are jumping on the TikTok bandwagon to gain traction with younger consumers. Burberry challenged users to upload videos of themselves attempting to do a “TB’ hand gesture, reflecting the Thomas Burberry monogram newly instated from creative director Riccardo Tisci. 30,000 videos were uploaded to the platform, generating 57 million views for the brand.

NFL
NFL TikTok Campaign

The NFL signed a two year agreement with TikTok to post content on the platform, including highlights, sideline moments and behind the scenes clips. To celebrate the collaboration, a #WeReady hashtag challenge was created to encourage users to show their support for their favourite teams. The challenge is the beginning of the NFL’s strategy to engage younger consumers in sports, as only 41% of Gen Z reportedly watch sports on television, compared to 75% of Baby Boomers.

Ralph Lauren
Diana Silvers, the face of Ralph Lauren’s campaign

To celebrate the US Open Tennis Championships, Ralph Lauren used TikTok as its campaign platform of choice. Consumers were asked to share a time when they won a real life challenge, by using the hashtag #WinningRL. Ralph Lauren face Diana Silvers, an actress and tennis player, took part in the campaign with a series of three videos that made use of TikTok’s latest shopability widget that lets customers buy directly within the app. Users could discover the brand’s US Open collection, which featured polos, tennis skirts and shorts.

Chipotle
Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge

To celebrate national avocado day, Chipotle launched a TikTok campaign called the #GuacDance challenge. The food chain called on its customers to upload dancing videos to express their love of the food. The campaign was the platform’s highest performing branded challenge in the US, receiving 250,000 video submissions.

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Magnum partners with Benefit for interactive pop-up in Shanghai

Magnum hosted a temporary beauty store in partnership with Benefit offering products and experiential activities to celebrate the launch of its new premium flavor range.

Taking place at the Réel Mall in Shanghai the pop-up made use of augmented reality and an interactive LED wall to bring its “Release your Beast” theme to life. A lion, polar bear, leopard and tiger were viewable as 3D characters, which visitors could take pictures with in a photobooth and then share on social media.

At the Benefit Beauty Bar, guests could test the brand’s latest products and book make-up artists. The environment included life-sized Benefit eyebrow pens and giant customized ice-cream installations.

The pop-up had a total of seven zones with a variety of activities. It attracted around 25,000 guests during the time it was open (May 24 to June 9).

Magnum has used the concept of “Release the Beast” in a couple of campaigns. In 2017, it teamed-up with fashion brand Moschino for a film on the theme starring Cara Delevingne and Jeremy Scott. Before that, to launch the Magnum Double ice cream in Singapore, it asked guests to release the beast of their passions in fashion, art, music and taste.

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SXSW 2018: How Kate Spade balances strategy and creative in its storytelling

Kate Spade sxsw
Kate Spade

Strategy and creative shouldn’t be opposing forces, said the marketing team from Kate Spade at SXSW this week, highlighting how they balance both for every initiative they put out.

Mary Beech, executive VP and CMO, Kristen Naiman, SVP of brand creative, and Krista Neuhaus, senior director of digital brand marketing, spoke about how every digital initiative the brand embarks on involves understanding the symbiotic relationship between strategy, the story they want to tell, and the channel they want to tell it on.

The team finds balance between being strategic about what platform to invest their time and budget on, and what they should jump in early and learn along the way. They gave numerous examples of the way in which they have done this.

When Facebook Live came out, for instance, they developed a fully-fledged campaign shot professionally and hosted by a celebrity influencer, which quickly became resource-intensive and logistically tough, and made the brand realise that bigger is not always better. Eventually, the content was scaled back to feature in-the-moment footage often shot by the brand’s team.

Kate Spade on Instagram Stories
Kate Spade on Instagram Stories

Kate Spade had only recently decided Snapchat wasn’t the best platform for the brand when Instagram Stories came out, and rather than applying the same behind-the-scenes content plan to the feature, it began by engaging with fans via a series of quotes and questions to the audience – thus allowing them to plan content ahead and understand what stuck.

A new fragrance launch was the perfect opportunity for the brand to engage and potentially acquire a younger audience, the team said. YouTube was an easy choice for the campaign as the beauty category performs particularly well among the Gen Z audience in that space. Rather than pushing pre-roll ads based on basic demographics such as gender and age, Kate Spade uncovered queries that were high volume for their target demographic on YouTube – such as what love is, and how to become successful – and put paid media against it.

The result was a series of discovery-based ads featuring notable women aged 51, 31 and 21 (such as actress Laura Dern, as seen above) talking about a selection of topics in a very personal and honest tone of voice. In doing so, the brand targeted a woman who was looking for guidance or often solace, and aimed to provide a more meaningful brand interaction, even if short.

Working with influencers and quirky brand ambassadors is at the heart of Kate Spade’s engagement strategy otherwise, as with its #MissAdventure series. Its influencer strategy is split two-fold, said CMO Beech: long-time fans who speak to a very engaged audience and whose style and aesthetic is ‘on-brand’; and influencers who at first might seem like an odd choice for the brand, but help them acquire a new customer base. Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine is an example of the latter.

Kate Spade is a brand deeply rooted in America, so it has to fundamentally streamline its strategy for its global audience, Beech said. She highlighted the need to understand what is fundamentally only relevant in their home country, and what is universal. As a result, communications are ‘cleaner’ and simplified internationally, focused on non-verbal elements that are easier to digest in any territory or language. Its comedy series was deemed too regional, for instance, while elements such as color, the idea of joy, and even animals and a lot of product visuals are brought to the forefront worldwide.

The brand’s main intention, the team concluded, is to take an intent-rich customer and serve them a more narrative-driven and dynamic service over time.