Want to see the most creative and innovative brand content between plays during Super Bowl LVII? Don’t go to TikTok.
Despite the social media app exploding in popularity, it’s difficult for brands to effectively use the platform during the big game itself. Why? It’s extremely different from other “turnkey” social platforms like Twitter, where it is easy to quickly engage users in real-time with text or images, says Noah Mallin, chief strategy officer of social media agency IMGN Media.
That’s a big problem, and it’s essential that brands crack the code, as the video sharing app, owned by Chinese company ByteDace, attracts more than 1 billion users each month.
“On TikTok, the potential to be seen [by users] is much greater than on Twitter, but the lift is a lot higher than something like Twitter because [TikTok] is a video-based platform,” says Mallin. “So you have to be ready to create a video around it. Even though the content looks pretty straightforward, it requires sophistication and knowledge of how videos on the platform are constructed to make it really work.”
There are major incentives for brands to step up their game on the social network. No. 1: TikTok makes particular sense for marketers to use during sports events, as the platform’s recent U.S. Sports Fandom and Events Insights Survey found that 57% of users watch sports content there weekly. Its Global Olympics and Sports Survey found that six in 10 TikTok users say watching sports content on the platform can be more entertaining than watching sports itself.
No. 2: nearly half (47%) of consumers say they pay “full attention” to TikTok, which is 21% higher than other platforms, according to TikTok’s Time Well Spent study, conducted by Kantar. TikTok users spent 25% more time with ads on TikTok, watching almost half before scrolling away, according to TikTok’s Brand Building research, conducted by DIRT.
Unlike Twitter, TikTok requires a user’s full attention, with many videos requiring the sound on, meaning it’s not a second screen while watching TV.
To meet this challenge, Mallin says brands shouldn’t think of TikTok as a marketing tool to use during an event like the Super Bowl. Instead, the opportunity is post-game and pre-game.
“Post-game, TikTok is a hotbed of trending sounds and moments, so if something happens during the game that is notable and leads to organic content being created that starts to trend, that is an opportunity for brands if it makes sense,” says Mallin.
IMGN Media client Panasonic does not have TikTok content planned for before or during the Super Bowl, but Mallin’s team is planning to keep a close eye on what happens during the game to see if anything aligns with topics that are important to the brand. These could include sustainability or technology for problem solving.
Some brands are very active on TikTok before the big game. One using TikTok as a central platform before the Super Bowl is Quaker Oats, whose PR partner is FleishmanHillard. Using TikTok as an extension of its campaign is a key strategy to drive fan engagement and capitalize on trends that start within the app, says Jessie Rau, director of communications for Quaker Foods North America.
Working closely with TikTok to leverage its business tools and features allowed Quaker to craft an integrated media strategy from the planning phase through the execution of influencer contracts, organic content and paid media, she says.
The oatmeal brand, in partnership with NFL legend Eli Manning, is inviting fans to share how they “pregrain” before the big game for a chance to attend next year’s Super Bowl LVIII. To enter the Quaker Pregrain Contest, fans can visit TikTok to follow @Quaker, between January 30 and February 12, 2023, and upload their own “pregrain” video.
Quaker Oats has posted videos featuring Manning in the past week to promote the contest.
“In previous years, we have leveraged influencers to share our Super Bowl efforts on [TikTok], but this year’s execution allows us to meet consumers where they already are and where we know trends originate to inspire not only engagement, but consumer action,” says Rau.
Ending the campaign on the day of the Super Bowl allows Quaker Oats to take advantage of the buzz and energy before the event.
“We plan to encourage others to show us how they pregrain and enter the contest all the way through the big game, and will do so by interacting with fans and brands in real-time,” says Rau. “We started that engagement when the contest opened and will continue until after the game in order to capture the culmination of how fans incorporate Quaker into their creative pre-game rituals in real-time.”
Interactive campaigns are “the future of marketing” and more brands are taking advantage of that insight, adds Rau.
“Entertaining fans during cultural events like the Super Bowl is now elevated to live fan engagement,” Rau says. “Consumers are excited by the potential for their involvement in timely brand activations.”
Doritos is also involving fans in its Super Bowl LVII plans, adding content created for the platform into its big game paid media activation. The snack brand’s campaign stars rapper and actor Jack Harlow and challenges consumers with the Doritos Triangle Tryouts, a TikTok dance-off where they can share their “best triangle-inspired dance on TikTok.”
The dance is based on TikTok dancer @vibin.wit.tay’s routine. The highest-scoring dance will be crowned the winner, and their final video will appear in a Super Bowl commercial during the game on Fox.
“We want to include our fans in our content so they have a voice and we can amplify the next generation’s voice,” says Stacy Taffet, SVP of brand marketing at Frito-Lay, who oversees Doritos. “This year, as we were looking at our objectives and campaign, it has a strong music and dance component in the narrative.”
Doritos, also supported by Omnicom Group agency Ketchum, decided to focus on TikTok because brand posts on the platform get impressive engagement, and it is popular with Doritos’ target demographic, Gen Z.
There were more than 1 million submissions for the contest, which ended in January.
“This is the first time we have gone on TikTok well in advance of the Super Bowl to drive engagement of our campaign and [get people to] be part of it,” says Taffet. “We knew when we had an idea closely tied to the brand and the experience of the brand, it is a good way to engage on the platform.”
Using TikTok as a marketing tool, particularly for an event such as the Super Bowl, made sense for Doritos because culinary content is popular on the platform.
“One of the reasons Doritos has such a big presence around the Super Bowl is because people love to eat and drink around the event,” says Taffet. “We see a lot of recipe and culinary content across a lot of digital platforms, but particularly on TikTok since Doritos is a very relevant brand with Gen Z.”
Brands on TikTok must think differently. Mallin says Doritos is “smart” to look at TikTok as a way to amplify what they are doing with a young audience “who aren’t as football-focused as some of the older age groups.”
Yet he says dance challenges are an “old school view” of how to use TikTok, and brands need to think about the TikTok user experience more creatively.
“TikTok is a huge information resource for Gen Z, and in some cases when they are searching for something, they are using TikTok instead of Google,” says Mallin.
Another way to use TikTok, particularly for brands that are Super Bowl sponsors, is by bringing to life behind-the-scenes content to give consumers an “authentic look” at what they are doing for the event.
Mallin says that brand TikTok content for major events like the Super Bowl is “barely scratching the surface," but that will soon change.
“We are only seeing the beginning of how TikTok will fit into these bigger marketing plans,” says Mallin. “Brands know they have to have a presence on TikTok, but if not this year, it will have to be next year.”
This story was updated on February 2 to correct Quaker's PR agency.
This story first appeared on PRWeek US.