The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Olivia Atkins, Writer

July 22, 2020 | 7 min read

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Adland creatives may well be skilled and well-versed in dreaming up new ideas for adverts, but can they TikTok? The Drum and the short-form video platform put this challenge to four industry creative directors, who were trained by rising stars and TikTok advocates from the advertising industry.

TikTok reverse mentoring challenge

ECDs are taught how to use TikTok in this reverse mentoring challenge

Senior creatives were given TikTok tutorials by Grey’s creative/art director Fong Ong; Grey creative Thomas Carver; Digitas UK’s copywriter Denit Rozner; and Digitas’ art director, Mimi Chan. Following the reverse mentoring, the creatives were then asked to put the tutorials in action and recreate an iconic ad using only TikTok and its powerful range of in-app tools

Now it’s up to The Drum’s readers to decide which TikTok ad reimagination is their favourite. .

The Drum’s consulting editor, Sonoo Singh, explains the ‘Don’t make ads, make TikToks’ challenge in this short clip, which features each of the creative’s TikTok submissions and reasons about why they decided to sign up.

It’s all in the TikToks!

The four creatives who undertook the reverse mentoring initiative include Digitas chief creative officer, Emma de la Fosse; VMLY&R New York executive creative director, Harsh Kapadia; and Grey London’s creative directors Aaron McGurk and Chris Lapham. They were all tasked with reimagining their favourite and most iconic ads and then taught a few TikTok tricks to help bring them to life.

Their TikTok videos have been unveiled and now it’s up to The Drum’s readers to vote for their favourite.

Creative call to action: Get reimagining!

Kapadia decided to rework his Kleenex ad, Sneeze of Shame, which was released in 2013. The original spot featured a number of people guiltily admitting their stories of being caught sneezing without a tissue and the embarrassment that ensued. Kapadia lent on the support of his family and friends to help him recreate some of the iconic scenes from the original ad. Using melancholy music – like in the original – Kapadia weaved together scenes that successfully parodied its predecessor, with admissions of sneezes occurring over cuddly toys, live animals and even on a petrol pump handle.

Kapadia says, “TikTok has tons of tools to explore and use in many different ways. A few tools I used to recreate Kleenex's ‘Embarrassing Moment’s were uploading multiple videos to be able to use the sync sound feature with the music which then auto edits the length of the cut.

“Using the time - repeat feature for one of the scenes I was able to emphasis an action in one of the scenes and applied the filters to get everything looking more consistent. Once this all fell in place I used the text feature (with set duration) for each scene, ended the TikTok with a sticker and most importantly a challenge to keep showing us where they end up without their Kleenex. #WithoutAKleenex. The key for me was using a simple execution that other TikTokers can join in to create their own but being creative in how they use the various features to create them.” See Kapadia's orignal ad below.

De la Fosse worked off her personal favourite ad, the heart-warming Tiny Dancer spot from adam&eveDDB for John Lewis. The memorable advert sees a young girl carelessly dancing around the living room to Elton John’s song of the same name, almost making a ruckus around the house, before the brand’s tagline emerges: ‘If it matters to you, it matters to us’ – to promote its home insurance service.

While De La Fosse didn’t attempt to mount a child’s car and ride it down the hallway like in the original, her transformed costume was spot on and she even managed to feature a similarly unimpressed cameo in the ad – in the form of her son, who looked dutifully embarrassed at having to participate, something that de la Fosse admits brought her great joy.

Emma used several of the platform’s tools to create her re-imagining including the green screen, sound effects, text animations and transitions. See the original ad below.

McGurk and Lapham submitted a joint TikTok entry – reflecting how they work as creatives – and reinterpreted their award-wining Honda campaign, Hands. The original 2013 spot cleverly uses animation and live action to follow the evolution of Honda’s technology and celebrate the inventiveness of its engineering. Using sleight of hand, a cog quickly became an engine, before being transformed into a moped, a motorbike, a car and even a lawn mower among other inventions, to show the various iterations explored by the brand throughout its then 65-year legacy.

McGurk and Lapham tapped into the ad’s original format and heavily experimented with the app’s capabilities to create a like-for-like video. Beginning with a cog and screwdriver and featuring a pair of hands that transforms each technological rendition, their TikTok video uses a series of in-app animations including effects, gifs and stickers along with sounds to playfully deconstruct and reconstruct the importance of the cog and highlight the brand’s progression. See their original ad below.

Behind the scenes of reverse mentoring

The second episode in the campaign series will hero the rising TikTok talents, who will share the tutorials and lessons they provided to the creatives ahead of the challenge. Out next month, the episode will be packed with go-to hacks for creating punchy TikToks that cut through and provide some insight into the reverse mentoring process.


The third and the final episode will be revealed to announce The Drum readers’ favourite TikTok video from the three entries.

Head to @dontmakeads on TikTok to see more reimaginings of your favourite classic ads.

But now, it’s over to you – Get your votes in for your favourite TikTok reimagining!

Creative Director Executive Creative Director TikTok

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