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Digital Transformation Adtech Brand Safety

TikTok's latest tool helps cast diverse creators in brand advertising

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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

May 18, 2022 | 6 min read

TikTok has announced a new tool that will help connect brands with diverse talent.

Branded Mission aims to remove bias from the influencer marketing landscape

Branded Mission allows emerging and aspiring creators to respond to ad casting calls directly in the app.

For brands, the conflict lies in including people from minority backgrounds in their marketing materials authentically, and it’s been noted that brands often piggyback real-world trends while not accurately rewarding the communities that created them.

Now the end-to-end option for creators and brands is receiving a simultaneous launch in 12 countries, with plans to expand it to more markets by the end of the year.

Chris Kenna, chief executive officer and co-founder of Brand Advance, which helped launch the tool, believes it allows brands to move away from the pernicious issue of ‘culture marketing’ – a term he argues should be retired due to its selective application. “It’s called culture marketing for you [but] it’s [just] called marketing for you again, and culture marketing for you again. Well, actually, unless you advertise to all of us that have the means to buy the product, it’s just marketing. Anything other than that, it’s just marketing done incorrectly.”

branded mission

It follows tests with agency partners OMD, which used the tool to refine some of its campaigns. Cristina Sagarduy is chief performance officer of OMD EMEA, and notes that the successful deployment of the tool requires agencies to think about their own values in a practical manner. “You asked me about some of our culture, planning and organizing knowledge, I think they were reactive. For instance, we have to be behind all the topics that are also important for brands and audiences. And inclusion, sustainability and how we consider all of that into planning is super important. And we regularly do training and certifications for people across the agency.”

The portal allows those emerging creators to submit up to three short-form ads for consideration – though brands are to be encouraged to pick as many as possible. TikTok’s head of GBS for Europe Stuart Flint says that the tool will also allow for more brands to choose to use influencers in their advertising. “Automatically when we think about this you go, ‘oh, it’s gonna be for a big brand,’ like BMW for example. But the reality is, I think it’s open to all. And so you may have small- to medium-sized businesses that are really doing well, that are a bit more localized, potentially, that may want to work with creators."

Once the ads have been selected and rolled out as paid ads across the TikTok platform, the individual creators will receive a direct payment for their work. The portal also allows for follow-up conversations between brand and creator should the brand seek to retain them for future work.

Branded Mission also seeks to reassure advertisers that viable creators will have to pass TikTok’s existing brand safety tests.

TikTok states that, with Branded Mission, it is refraining from offering concrete demographic targets as that would go against the ethos of the tool. It does note, however, that its existing suite of advertising options allows brands to purchase audiences in a more traditional manner. Flint explains: “Removing bias was a key product design principle. So through this product, we don’t follow targeting. On the creator side the brief that an advertiser submits goes to our creator community, so they can receive submissions from a wide spectrum.

“Of course, it applies for diversity in terms of ethnicity and gender. But it goes beyond that. If you remember the Ocean Spray campaign, remember the guy on a skateboard, it would have never been cast. If they had done like a proper ad, it would never happen.”

There are a number of ways in which Branded Mission could still allow brands to skirt genuine representation: it is still up to the brands themselves to pick which creators they work with. Despite that, the direct payments to emerging creators and the mere fact that the option is available is a step toward a more representative influencer ecosystem.

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