Songkran Stranger: TikTok's interactive film soothing wanderlust in lockdown
TikTok Thailand set out to increase brand love by making itself more relevant to Thai people, using the festival of Songkran as a starting point. This interactive film campaign won the ‘Music and Entertainment’ category at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising in 2021. It impressed the judges so much it also took home the Grand Prix. Here, the team behind the entry explains the concept and its execution.
Thailand is one of the most competitive markets in Asia for social platforms, with huge and well-established competition in Line, Facebook and Youtube, amongst others. TikTok enjoyed incredle growth in Thailand during 2019 and 2020, but continuing that story wasn't going to be easy.
User growth was slowing, having reached a saturation on market penetration. User numbers were under pressure in the second half of 2020 and research suggested many Thai’s (particularly non-users) believed the platform to be full of “useless, childish, all the same” videos. In fact, this perception was growing over time.
So, the business priority evolved towards increasing brand love and driving brand likability indices for users and non-users via focus on entertainment context and becoming culturally relevant to the Thai people.
In early 2021, amidst the ongoing pandemic, we set out to convince Thais about the real value TikTok brings through entertainment, engagement, and unique features that help bring people together. Campaign success would be measured by increases in brand Likability, built on a strong association with Entertainment image (measured by Kantar) and ultimately a spike in user downloads during the campaign period.
During Q1 2021, Thailand was experiencing a peak in Covid-19 cases. Our target audience of Millennials 25-34 was facing the prospect of another isolated, boring festive period. Songkran is normally a time for water fights in the streets and travel with friends, but Songkran 2021 would be spent in lockdown. Hence our target was to spend a lot of ‘Me Time’ at home.
Songkran epitomizes bringing family and friends together in an atmosphere of fun and celebration. It’s also the national Thai event, something normally associated with big and credible Thai brands. What better opportunity to bring joy back to Thailand, and capture the perception of a really big, meaningful brand that helps connect people, than by helping to rescue Songkran!
We realized TikTok could be the perfect entertainment solution for this difficult time. In the year of No-Songkran, we set out to create a pop culture entertainment experience that no other platform could deliver, and everyone could be a part of together: Songkran Stranger.
Titled “Songkran Stranger”, the short film follows Linn, a woman who gets dumped every Songkran, because she turns into a different person every time she gets splashed with water. That is until she meets bartender Mario, a man willing to date her despite her strange condition.
Through this storyline and TikTok’s Duet & Stitch features, any user can virtually insert themselves into scenes of Thai new year’s culture, interacting however they like with their favorite actor or actress. More than a film, “Songkran Stranger” is an invitation to all of Thailand to enjoy their holiday season through an innovative entertainment experience exclusively on TikTok.
Songkran Stranger was a campaign developed entirely to exist in the mobile environment. The campaign created a reason for both users and non-users to positively experience the brand. In addition to TikTok, the campaign ran across paid digital channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.
We used UGC from macro and micro influencers, who created content to interact with the movie, and Influencers who used movie parodies and reviews to create organic buzz. Mario and Linn’s fanbase were leveraged to amplify the content with great success in impressions and reach, Songkran Stranger achieved massive scale and results, despite a total campaign budget of less than 100k USD.
Songkran Stranger was TikTok’s first ever interactive film, and fully utilized the unique selling points and features of the app as an integral part of the campaign mechanic. In addition to delivering happiness during the Songkran Festival at a time when we all must keep our distance from each other, the film was incorporated into TikTok’s DNA, providing vertical short video content, and engaging viewers with content through the hashtag campaign. It made use of popular features and sounds that viewers can use to create their own content.
All elements of the campaign, across media channel, storyline, cultural relevance, celebrity leads, and creative tone of voice were matched closely with the current situation of key target Millennials 25-34, to drive participation, downloads and increase recall & retention for users within the app. Moreover, this campaign helped strengthen the brand's entertainment linked image, ultimately positively effecting an increased likeability amongst users & non-users. The high levels of engagement and user generated content illustrated the success of this integrated approach around a fundamentally Mobile platform.
Songkran Stranger helped to maintain TikTok’s amazing growth into 2021 by tapping into an important cultural moment for Thai people, and adding genuine entertainment value that brought people closer together and allowed them to experience many of the key benefits of the platform that cannot be found in competitors (whilst helping to reverse some negative brand perceptions).
Songkran Stranger was a massive success and delivered directly on the key campaign objective to increase Likeability via a strong focus on Entertainment, amongst other measured metrics:
- Kantar Brand Health Tracking showed Likeability for non-users increased by 17%. Top of Mind increased by 14%
- Entertainment Image improved to 82%, the highest ever (Kantar)
- Downloads peaked with TikTok the #1 app during Songkran period
- New User acquisition during a peak season delivered far beyond expectations (actual results confidential)
- In six days, the film generated over 94 million views and more than 92,000 user generated content participation
- Songkran Stranger movie account on TikTok reached a total of 70M video views and 170k followers.
Consumers loved the campaign and found the execution highly memorable and engaging:
- Positive sentiment for the campaign reached 92% with a negative sentiment of only 0.34%
- Engagement levels were 3x higher than previous campaigns.
- Ad Recall on Youtube achieved almost twice Google benchmark
- View-Through Rates on Youtube exceeded 35% and over 90% on Sanook
Most importantly, Songkran Stranger helped to rescue Songkran and brought joy to millions of Thai people!