A perfect paradigm of how brands can organically benefit from TikTok, Ocean Spray has had a good week since Nathan Apodaca's skateboarding video went viral. The brand's director of global corporate affairs Chris Ferzli shares her experience, hinting that there's more to come out of this fortuitous episode.
While the world might feel like an episode from the pages of a dystopian novel, last week it was offered a brief respite when Nathan Apodaca (a labourer at a potato warehouse in Idaho) decided to film himself cruising home on his longboard, lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s iconic song, Dreams, all while gulping down a carton of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry.
“It struck a chord,” says Chris Ferzli, Ocean Spray's director of global corporate affairs, of the TikTok video which has now racked up nearly 29 million views and counting.
A metaphor for our times, it turns out Apodaca made the video during his journey to work after his car battery packed in. “Just the fact he was making the best of a situation despite a challenge really resonated with people. There is such a calm and positive energy to the video and given 2020 is an especially challenging year, it was just so welcome,” Ferzli contends.
Inadvertently hitting the right spot, the vibe of his free and easy cruise was contagious, and since then, TikTokers from across the world have been scooping up bottles of Ocean Spray and hitting the road on everything from skateboards to wakeboards, Heelys, and pet strollers.
Even 73-year-old Fleetwood Mac's namesake drummer, Mick Fleetwood, joined TikTok especially to get on board, and the world lapped it up.
As people clambered on board the hype, the stage was set for the juicer to jump in and acknowledge that Apodaca had inadvertently created the perfect Ocean Spray ad. However, the brand played it cool, taking over a week to respond, and allowed the hype to unfold organically before delivering Apodaca a new truck – laden with bottles of Cran-Raspberry.
“We caught notice of it about a week ago and we knew we wanted to get involved," Ferzli recalls. "We heard his story and wanted to help so we took some time, pulled together a plan to buy him a new truck, and filled it with cranberry juice.”
Did we just become best friends? @mickfleetwood @420doggface208
Inspired by the video, Ocean Spray's chief exec Tom Hayes hopped on his own skateboard to record his version. “I asked him if he's ever done skateboarding before and he said once or twice. So I said, are you fully insured?” jokes Ferzli. “The first take ended a little abruptly, but his second try he nailed it. I just can't believe it. It was really cool.” And it worked well. Since gifting Apodaca the truck, the comments section has been inundated by TikTokers praising Ocean Spray for the good deed, swearing their allegiance to the brand.
With the world now watching Apodaca on TikTok as he rides around in his new truck sipping Ocean Spray, and creating content organically for the brand, Ferzli hints that there is more to come. “I can just tell you to stay tuned there,” she says when asked whether the skater might become a brand ambassador.
@420doggface208 Thanks for the new wheels ocean spray! . @tomhayes603 ##oceanspray♬ original sound - doggface208
The whole episode certainly is a sign of the times. While brands of the past would have spent millions on advertising to get this level of attention, thanks to TikTok, Ocean Spray had to do nothing for its stock value to double overnight.
“We were dabbling with it but this has accelerated our use of the platform,” Ferzli says of its TikTok strategy, that saw its chief exec open an account and the hashtag #OceanSpray now has 27.5m views. “More so with other platforms, it helps us engage with the consumer more organically in a two-way dialogue that is more organic than we’ve normally done.”
And it's not just been Ocean Spray that has benefitted. 43-years after Fleetwood Mac's Dreams first hit the charts, the song has risen to the top of the iTunes single charts, as Gen Z TikTokers connect with the 'boomer' song.
In the week following Apodaca's video, the song was streamed 8.47 million times in the US alone, earning its highest-ever streaming numbers in the US. All thanks to a man sipping Ocean Spray on a skateboard.
It's becoming a common theme. Beyond its dense library of bite-size memes, the short-form video app is becoming renowned for impacting popular music. Last year Lil Nas X ‘Old Town Road’ (and its many remixes) became the longest-reigning Billboard Hot 100 Number 1 in the chart’s history after initially going viral on TikTok.
While it's easy to assume that this episode will boost Ocean Sprays sales, beyond its stock value, Ferzli says it's: “Definitely too early to tell. But the viral nature of the video and the comments has been amazing, with a lot of people saying they're running out and buying juice.”