Sabrina Sanchez
May 7, 2021

TikTok to marketers: Go native and multigenerational

The platform enlisted KFC at NewFronts in the US to persuade advertisers to spend on TikTok.


TikTok doesn’t want advertisers to create ads for its platform. 

At its NewFront presentation on Thursday, TikTok told marketers that in order to be successful with its audience, they have to show up natively on the platform. 

At the event, hosted by TikTok creator Tai Verdes, the platform touted its reach and cultural impact through survey data and case studies, and presented itself as a culturally relevant entertainment app, rather than a social platform. 

TikTok wants advertisers to know it’s not all just about branding, but can drive real sales. Sandie Hawkins, GM of North America and global business solutions at TikTok, cited the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend as evidence that the platform turns impressions into purchases. 

It also wants brands to know that it’s not just a platform for Gen Z. TikTok is “driven by organic content from audiences of all ages,” said head of global marketing Nick Tran. 

The numbers

TikTok has 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., 30% of which report watching less TV since joining the platform, and 93% of which say they “feel happy” after spending time on the app, according to an internal survey.

All signs indicate that the TikTok obsession won’t slow down as the world reopens. Eighty-eight percent of TikTokers plan to spend equal or more time on the app when things go back to normal, according to the survey. 

As for advertisers, consumers actually like ads on TikTok,, with 61% of describing ads on the platform as “unique.” 

TikTok is also effective. Ninety-percent of TikTok campaigns exceed a return on ad spend (ROAS) of $2.50, while half exceed a ROAS of $5. Meanwhile, TikTok exceeds Kantar global norms for brand favorability, awareness and purchase intent by at least 2x, based on measurements from Q4. 

So where’s the evidence? 

TikTok brought on outgoing U.S. CMO of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Andrea Zahumensky, and CMO of American Eagle Outfitters, Craig Brommers, to discuss the impact TikTok had on their business. 

After a video of a TikTok creator wearing American Eagle leggings went viral, the brand’s Google searches spiked  200% and the leggings have sold out every time they’ve been restocked in the past year, Brommers said.

Meanwhile, Zahumnesky attributed the success of KFC’s chicken sandwich campaign to TikTok grandma creator, Lily Hayes, who has over 3.4 million followers on the platform. 


You’re getting appitized! lol ����‍♂️ @kentuckyfriedchicken #trythekfcsandwich #satisfiedcustomers #ad

♬ original sound - Lili Hayes

TikTok do’s and don’ts

TikTok hosted a “marketing advice” segment during its NewFront where creators and executives told brands to trust and give creative freedom to influencers for the best results, highlighting the need for fluidity and speed. 

Brands should also lean into TikTok’s relationship with music. Three-fourths of TikTokers say they discover new artists on the platform, and 68% prefer videos from brands that feature new music they haven't heard before. 

Sixty-eight percent of TikTokers also agree they remember a brand better if they feature a song they like,and 72% associate songs with the platform.

Campaign US

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