September 16, 2021 / CPOVs

TikTok Killed the Radio Star

Kelly Fennessy, Assistant Brand Manager

Music has always had a huge impact on the advertising industry. Advertisers have pulled inspiration from radio hits, MTVs videos, and movies for ages. Over the years, industry experts have honed their skills on selecting the best scores to drive their messages, distinguish their brand, and evoke emotion from consumers. Not only that, but advertising has also impacted the music industry, with popular ads leading to top charters. There is no doubt that music and advertising have a close and mutually beneficial relationship, but recently, that relationship has gotten a bit complicated. If the old saying is “video killed the radio star” then our newest media mogul, TikTok, has taken both radio and video to the slaughter house and massacred them in a slasher film fashion. TikTok took what video had heightened from radio and condensed it to fit the population’s growing need for short and digestible content. Just in 2020 alone, on average, individual users in America spent 20 hours monthly on TikTok, grossly surpassing apps like Facebook and Instagram. And brands are catching on to this growing phenomena. 

TikTok is providing a platform for all advertisers to take advantage of the power of music. The whole app revolves around song and user generated sounds. Brands can truly make an impact on audiences, with 68% of users saying they recognize a brand and remember companies when they use a popular TikTok sound or song. It is such a simple step that can drive sales forward. Even AdWeek has acknowledged that brands can no longer be static and safe with their social media content anymore. Social media has become its own creative platform in and of itself, and the smartest companies are leading the charge and leaving the rest of advertisers in the dust. 

Just this past summer, we have seen brands take advantage of this amplified obsession for musical ads within TikTok and outside of the platform. For example, Ocean Spray’s sales skyrocketed and the brand earned 15 billion media impressions in a month when a user took a simple video drinking their cranberry juice and skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Ocean Spray took advantage of this viral video by sending the user a truck full of cranberry juice. Such a simple clip causing an uptick in sales and brand recognition has led other companies like Walmart and Dunkin Donuts to encourage employees to take organic videos at work. You never know what may go viral.

Similarly, Wright Bacon hopped on the TikTok band wagon recently with their Bacon Beats campaign. They partnered with four popular TikTok music creators that turned their 19 minute vinyl of frying bacon into upbeat tunes that garnered an upwards of 975k impressions combined. Their experimental advertising also relied on user generated content, something that continues to entice audiences, especially on TikTok.

Outside of TikTok, other campaigns have highlighted how important audience creation and music is becoming. Reese’s recent OOH stunt of turning their boxes into music studios with an AR illustrates how the brand is recognizing audiences’ newfound infatuation with music in tandem with their growing desire to create. If content is king, user generated content and music are becoming its right hand in command queen. 

To further exemplify the growing importance of music in the industry, eMarketer has projected that the amount of paid music platform subscriptions will increase by 11% this year. Spotify even put out their new campaign, Song for Every CMO, that honors individual CMOs with their own music selection, while also showcasing how important audio is becoming in the advertising industry. Spotify wants companies to see how music can shape storytelling in new ways today, and notes how audio is no longer the same as radio. It is a new kind of beast. 

Even in our own Boston office, we have music pumping through the halls 24/7. It helps us stay productive, creative, and well, awake on a Monday morning. Every employee gets a chance to showcase their music taste when they are selected for a day to take control of the speakers with their own playlist. You could say we are already ahead of the game with this user generated content music trend. Who knows, maybe it’s subtly psychologically impacting our advertising? I hope it is. And I hope that other companies get ahead of the curve and utilize the power of music in their advertising. I can’t wait to see what crazy experiments the industry comes up with.

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Irreverent, Unpolished, and Exuberant, Gen Z is Shaking Up the Tokyo Olympics

Chelsea Carrasquillo, Brand Planner

Here we are, a year and a half after the world was brought to a halt by the devastation of a global pandemic, and perhaps one of the most exciting beacons of hope that we’re coming out the other side has been the arrival of the Tokyo Olympics. While it won’t look like the Olympics of the past for many reasons, one of those is the thunderous arrival of the Gen Z Olympians. Irreverent, unpolished, but infectiously excited, these young athletes arein their typical fashionshaking things up, and they may just be what makes the 2020 Olympics so worth watching. 

The first digitally-native generation, they’ve grown up with smartphones in their pockets and therefore megaphones in their hands, and that’s led them to become a generation that values their individual and collective voice above almost anything else. It’s the unfiltered, expletive-laden Gen Z voice that can be heard ‘round the world this summer. 

Where previous generations have shown up to the Olympics poised and polished, a product of intense coaching with a reverence for the games, Gen Z athletes possess a unique balance of endearing, over-the-top excitement mingled with laid-back indifference. While you could equate their lack of polish (and lack of filter) with a lack of respect for their position, their genuine excitement is really rather endearing, and there’s something very pure in their presentation of themselves. Olympic athletes have always shouldered an immense amount of responsibility, and while it should be so, young athletes were often stripped of the ability to be kids and to behave as such. High-level athletes, especially at the Olympic caliber, are pushed from childhood not only in their sport, but also in how they represent their country. That comes with not just extreme physical burdens, but often mental and emotional burdens, as well. There’s something refreshing about the Gen Z athletes’ ability to brush that off and be unapologetically themselves. 

If anything, it’s apparent that Gen Z views their position on the world stage with immense gravity, recognizing that they’ve been granted a very public platform. The Gen Z and young Millennial athletes are amassing huge followings on social media, particularly on TikTok, and are using their platforms to give fans a behind-the-scenes look into what’s involved in their training, to introduce new audiences to their sports, to speak to the burden of competing at such a high level, and to serve as role models for a diverse group of up-and-coming athletes. 

Brands need to keep in mind that the values reflected in the Gen Z athletes ring true for the generation, and may be the key to connecting with this audience. 

Ensure a Foundation of Authenticity

Gen Z holds authenticity as one of their top virtues, and that’s something that can be seen in both their self-expression and in the way they interact with brands. The imperative for brands that want to establish trust with this generation is to ensure that they are prioritizing the things that Gen Z cares about (for example, social justice or the environment), but doing so in a way that’s authentic. This young generation is essentially a giant B.S.-detector and as a result, brands have to be able to walk the walk if they’re going to win them over.

Adapt to Gen Z’s Infamous Irreverence

Gen Z is a generation that doesn’t want to play by the rules, they want to rewrite them (remember when Daenerys said “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel”?). There’s an interesting dichotomy that exists within the generation, and that’s that in that they don’t take themselves—or much society’s expectations—too seriously (see the lax attitude of some of the Olympians), but that there are some things they take extremely seriously (issues of injustice and equality, for one). Brands that want to connect with this generation have to find a way to share in that attitude. That could manifest itself in the transparency and authenticity previously discussed, or even in a self-deprecating sense of humor that’s so resonant with this younger generation. Brands have to tap into that Gen Z mindset that while some things should be taken seriously (e.g. activism), the rest can be laughed off. 

Make Room for Real Storytelling

Finally, brands need to understand that Gen Z’s desire for authenticity goes hand-in-hand with their desire for real content (i.e. real stories of real people). Apart from the Olympic competition itself, Gen Zers said that they’re most interested in the human interest stories of the athletes (19 percent) and behind-the-scenes footage of athletes training and socializing away from the competition (19 percent), which is precisely the content that the Gen Z athletes are providing via their social media. Brands that can feature this type of compelling, emotional storytelling and provide an additional platform for young people to tell their stories through their own voice will win the hearts of this young generation of viewers.   

Love it or hate it, Gen Z’s modus operandi is not to adapt to ‘the way things are,’ but rather to force the world around them to adapt. Personally, I’m excited to see the Olympics have a little less polish and a little more personality going forward.


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