TikTok focuses on traditional media in first North American campaign

The social platform is relying on TV and radio to show 90% of Canadians the kind of content its creators come up with.

TikTok Heads Up
TikTok is looking to grow its share of lip-synchers, dancers and jokesters in its first large scale North America-wide brand awareness campaign.

“Heads Up” looks back at the year that was and what we’ve all gone through thanks to the pandemic. The creative features the diverse individuals and communities that make up TikTok’s userbase, including Canadian creators LeendaDong, Bomanizer, NotoriousCree, Lubalin, and Kissy Duerre, while a localized French version will feature TV and radio personality Anne Marie Wittenshaw.

The media strategy was to prioritize video and sound-friendly environments, according to Nadia Niccoli, director of marketing brand and business for TikTok Canada. The brand chose traditional linear broadcast to speak to a general mass audience, with ads around programming like The Bachelor (where it’s seeing a “nice intersection between its rabid fanbase” with people watching after-the-eviction moments through TikTok), as well as beside entertainment/comedy and lifestyle content. It’s also tapping local DJs across six key radio markets to amplify its positivity messaging and tell stories about the impact TikTok has had on creators’ lives.

“It’s a large, national broad-reaching campaign and ideally its goal is to reach 90% of Canadians,” Nicolli says. Creative was handled by Hecho Studios while Zenith conducted the media buy.

Nicolli says it wanted to connect with consumers through emotional pandemic moments and showcase the joy, positivity and optimism the platform offers. “Heads Up” is an extension of September’s inaugural Canadian campaign, which looks to cement its place as an entertainment destination.

Niccoli says there’s a universality to the pandemic world that everyone is experiencing and will resonate across borders, which is why it decided to run the campaign in both the U.S. and Canada. The Canadian content creators were chosen based on their growth, with the brand looking to showcase the diversity of its content, as well as its creators, in an effort to show that TikTok has something for everyone.

Niccoli cites examples like Montreal’s Lubalin, a musician who crafts songs around petty internet drama, and who went from eight followers in December to upwards of two million when his content caught the attention of Jimmy Fallon. She also points to Alberta’s James Jones, who creates popular content around Cree culture education and Indigenous advocacy through his handle NotoriousCree.

According to a Ryerson Social Media Lab 2020 survey of 1,500 Canadians, conducted last spring, 15% of Canadians have TikTok accounts. However those that do have an account tend to use them regularly (63% daily). The platform also skews heavily female.