Baskin-Robbins finds strange things in TikTok campaign

The ice-cream co. continued to jump on the Stranger Things phenomenon, creating a co-branded digital activation with Netflix.

‘Twas the night before Stranger Things’ season three airing / When all through TikTok / The users were stirring.

A “branded challenge,” with the hashtag #StrangerThingsBinge had just been planted on the app’s Discover page as part of a media buy by the generation Z-courting brand Baskin-Robbins, in the hopes that viral silliness would ensue. And that it did.

During the five-day branded TikTok takeover, the ice-cream co. tracked more than 13,000 created videos and 22 million views, not to mention a click-through rate of 11.37%, with the app delivering 28% more impressions that what a brand typically receives, according to Reprise and Initiative, the two IPG Mediabrands agencies that collaborated to execute the effort earlier this month.

TikTok challenges like Baskin-Robbins’ are what fuel the platform. The virality of those challenges – in which users are prompted to replicate a video using a popular song and hashtag from another user – is a big part of what has made the app an overnight (or, rather, two-year) success, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the Chinese-owned app has seen nearly 1.2 billion downloads (about 104 million of those are American) since its global debut in 2017.

The branded takeover was planned with a second-screen strategy in mind, speaking to the app’s core Gen Z base as they simultaneously watched the show, Tyler Dmytrow, director at Reprise tells MiC.

Knowing that many, if not most, young fans would binge-watch Stranger Things over the weekend following its premiere, the team took over the explore page unit so that Baskin-Robbins had prime placement in the app. It was one of the very first things a user saw when they opened the challenge page. But, as much as the paid takeover unit was essential in driving engagement, the three Canadian influencers that Reprise’s social team picked were just as important in kicking off the challenge, says Dmytrow.

BR_TikToc_2The influencer challenge videos themselves achieved completion rates averaging above 86%. And in them, users could watch how someone like @mikewitzel, with 145 thousand app followers, gets ready to watch Stranger Things (in the upside down, naturally) with a tub of BR ice-cream in hand, with the hashtag taking on a life of its own as users create similar (sometimes edgy, mostly goofy) content – which, says Dmytrow, is the beauty of the app.

“TikTok is a playful platform and it has its own behaviour,” he says. “It wasn’t really about running an ad and then hoping for engagement. It was initiated as a challenge, and it takes on a sort of different approach to media. It’s tough to compare it to other platforms, it’s a lot more involved [with having] people take part in the media. The functionality isn’t similar to other platforms and the uniqueness is what drew us.”