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Creative TikTok Future of Media

Bringing your brand to life on TikTok: the creative process breakdown

By Guan Hin Tay

March 1, 2021 | 9 min read

The second in a two-part series, BBDO Singapore's chief creative officer, Tay Guan Hin, and associate planning director, Naomi Lam, offer advice on how to get started with the creative process on TikTok. Read part one here.


Trends and consumer participation are two key factors to create a successful campaign on TikTok. This is why brands and agencies must shift from the traditional and long creative and production process to a more agile and consumer-led approach.

While different marketers and creatives adopt different approaches to TikTok ideas, we’ve found that essentially there are four key components in the TikTok creative process.

#1 Find what your audience is passionate about

TikTok connects brands with their audience through their common passions.

Before you find a common passion between your brand and audience, you need to find your brand’s tribe on TikTok and understand their interests and codes.

Do some homework to understand what the tribe likes about your brand and how they express it - sometimes what makes them love your brand can be very different from what your brand’s traditional communications have been preaching.

Another important factor to look at is cultural events that would influence what your consumers are passionate about during the event. For example, during last year’s lockdown in the Philippines, many thrill-seekers missed the excitement of outdoor adventures. To help its consumers to find thrilling activities again, Mountain Dew worked with BBDO Guerrero and launched #DewThrillTokChallenge to encourage these thrill-seekers to find adventures at home, with a little help from the TikTok green-screen effect.

Check out the adventures TikTok creator junnie.boy and user happypill365 had!

#2 Find what your brand is passionate about

Before jumping in to participate in your audience’s passion points, it’s crucial to check within ourselves and see if this is something aligned with the brand’s passion. Although brands are often exempt from rigid corporate guidelines on TikTok, it’s important for brands to speak in a way that’s authentic to the brand we know.

For example, Chipotle’s been communicating its obsession for the freshness of ingredients for years. So, when the festival of one of their star ingredients - avocado - came about, it’s hard to not celebrate it with their huge Chipotle Guac fanbase!

To celebrate National Avocado’s Day, Chipotle invited Dr. Jean, the writer of the viral ‘Banana Dance’ song to adapt the song into ‘The Guacamole Song’ and invite all Chipotle’s guac fans to join in and celebrate its signature Chipotle Guac with their own dance moves.

This campaign garnered more than 250,000 user submissions and 430 million views in just six days following the launch. More importantly, the chain’s avocado usage surged by 68% on National Avocado Day, July 31.

Check out the original Guac Dance TikTok created by Chipotle and Dr Jean and the guac dance from TikTok Creator brentrivera

#3 Identify the right TikTok trend to ride on

Next, we need to find the right TikTok execution to bring the idea to life. And one of the best ways to do this is by leveraging TikTok Trends.

Riding on TikTok Trends can increase the chance of your content popping up on the ‘What’s Trending’ section of TikTokers’ accounts and help your campaign cut through millions of new TikToks created every day.

A good example of this is Mucinex’s Halloween campaign. To promote its new cold & flu solution during the Halloween season, Mucinex launched the ‘#TooSickToBeSick’ TikTok Challenge. Leveraging on the popular ‘TikTok Transformation’ trend, Mucinex worked with TikTok Creators to show how they can transform from feeling sick and ‘zombie-like’ to their most glamorous and creative Halloween makeover with Mucinex’s new NightShift solution.

The campaign successfully helped Mucinex cut through the sea of branded Halloween content and garnered more than 900 million views in total.

Check out a compilation of the original TikTok transformation trend here. And the #TooSickToBeSick transformation from TikTok Creators Jaydencroes and nicktangorra :

#4 Add a creative twist to make it ownable

The last but possibly the most important step is to add your own twist to the TikTok trend you identified, to make the TikTok campaign ownable and unique to your brand.

Some of the most obvious ways to do so include leveraging your brand’s visual assets, colours, unique campaign hashtag etc. In the instance of this Mercedes-Benz campaign, they leveraged their most valuable and recognizable brand asset - the MB logo. The luxury brand launched #MBStarChallenge, encouraging TikTokers to re-envision its world-famous logo in their own unique way.

Another effective approach to add your brand’s unique twist on TikTok is by investing in original music.

Music is a big part of TikTok content. A catchy and unique piece of music can not only increase the chances of your content going viral, but it can also help maintain the consistency of your branding when TikTokers create new content using your music.

This is why e.l.f cosmetics invested in commissioning a song called ‘Eyes Lips Face’ (the origin of the brand name’s acronym). e.l.f. then partnered with a team of TikTok creators, both men and women, to invite TikTokers to join the #EyesLipsFace challenge and reveal their eyes, lips, and face makeup to the tune of the song.

The campaign became one of the most successful branded TikTok campaigns - the catchy song got many celebrities joined in organically and garnered more than 5 billion views in total, demonstrating the power of music on TikTok.

See how Jessica Alba and Ellen Degeneres joined in the #EyesLipsFace trend!

This sums up our two-part series. If your brand is exploring the potential of TikTok and needs some advice, please do not hesitate to contact your local BBDO representative. We’re excited to help you bring your brand to life on TikTok!

Tay Guan Hin is CCO, BBDO Singapore and Naomi Lam is associate planning director, BBDO Singapore.

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