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How TikTok Japan made its mark on the film industry

TikTok Japan won the ‘Paid Media Campaign’ category at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveals the secrets of this successful project...

The challenge

Vertical screens have become increasingly familiar and accessible. However, film and entertainment content traditionally are still at their infancy stage and there was virtually no precedent for adoption to the user’s second screen, now the vertical content screen on our mobile. And so we organized a first-of-it’s-kind film festival, collaborating with Toho, the biggest film distribution company in Japan, exclusively on TikTok.

Majority of users and non-user audiences in Japan perceive TikTok as a platform just for kids or female teenagers to play with schoolmates by dancing/memes. The contents in the app are perceived childish, meaningless self movies. It’s far from art or any sophisticated contents.

On the other hand, there is a clear sign that TikTok creators have improved their creating/editing skills, and they’ve been expanding the genres of activities. In addition, vertical screens have been more intimate and familiar to many people than ever. And especially younger generations tend to consume shorter-duration contents than before. Hence with this campaign, we aimed for TikTok, a short video platform to help connect new-age creators with the venerable, traditional film industry professionals.

Comms objectives to drive for TikTok Japan:

  • TikTok is not just for kids, or frivolous. The brand stands for diversified areas of interest for users, across entertainment.

  • Varied high quality content formats, with proven contribution to art/film/entertainment education and industry.

  • TikTok, as a platform, stands for fostering creativity and nurturing talent for aspiring artists

  • For users: TikTok is the place to make my dreams come true.

The strategy

Smartphones and TikTok have lowered the barrier to entry for anyone who wants to create videos and films. One does not require specialized knowledge or training to be part of the festival; film creation is really being democratized. By using mobile media, we were able to offer a one-stop solution for both creators and audience: creators could shoot with their smartphones, submit their entries by using the hashtag #TTFilmFestival2021; audience could watch films and have interactions with creators, and even vote for their favorites, all in one single app.

Mobile channels allowed us to design the campaign with user-centricity and user-friendliness. Last but not the least, the awards ceremony was made available to the masses, via the TikTok Live feature. This was an effective way to reach more audience during this pandemic. This led to a mammoth turnout with the online audience, far larger (and safer) than any event held offline.

The festival

The festival was the result of teaming up with Toho, the biggest film company in Japan. The competition and overall event activation gained immense credibility as we had the privilege to have Kitamura Takumi and Hamabe Minami, two of the top young actors/ actresses in Japan today, and the legendary director Miike Takashi participate in the festival. In addition, we got onboard a movie commentator extremely popular on TikTok – all reputable, coveted and respected professionals in the film industry, joined the ceremony to celebrate 10 nominees, and made our event a super success. With amplification on social networks and TV, this successfully generated a lot of buzz not only in the film industry, but also in the entire video and entertainment community.

The other unique point was the incentive mechanism: the grand prix winner was provided the right to create a new film with industry-led professional support from the Toho team, and most importantly, with the opportunity to assign Hamabe Minami, the top actress in their own feature film!

To ensure a far-reaching, massified impact for this film festival, we utilized multiple media touch points and brought the origin of film-watching as an offline experience into the screens of every film fan in Japan! We brought people of all walks of life together, and celebrated the art of film making.

This was amplified using both online/offline media, across paid/non-paid media touch points such as TV(both TVCM and organic exposure on TV show) , social media/twitter, newspaper/tabloids, posters at university campuses, cinema advertisement and flyer at theaters - here even our media strategy was built as a fusion of the old and the new.

The results

The campaign generated more than 5,000 total entries with over 550m total views across all entries.

Brand perception in entertainment content by users and non-users increased, with over 90% positive/neutral of sentiments on social media.

TV and social networks together garnered a reach of 30m+ audience.

Organic media coverage exceeded 200 news/publisher units, including media genres in entertainment and culture.

Long-term ripple effect on perception of TikTok was the ultimate endgame achieved in this campaign. There was a positive uplift in Brand perception within the B2B community, leading to long-term leverage for seeking additional media value such as TV broadcasting or publishers deals struck at a lesser-to-market cost.

Media requests came rolling in from major companies in the film and entertainment industry: TOEI, publishers such as Shueisha and Shogakukan, and TV broadcasting companies.

There is increasing popularity and demand for industry-led media partnerships at a lower cost, generating additional media value in the long-term.

We are even in discussion with NTV, a nation-wide broadcasting company, as part of the next phase of this campaign, with a newsworthy deal to shoot a behind-the-scenes that features the production of the new film and how a graduate student won the prize and TikTok opened the door for him to become a film professional.

By creating a film festival that can be produced, submitted, voted for and viewed using a single smartphone, we managed to make an impact on the film and the video industry.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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