As you scroll through TikTok you come across a video of a supposed love story between a mascot bird and mascot sponge; these characters eventually have hybrid bird-shaped sponge children.
While it doesn’t appear to make any sense, the video has been viewed 3.1 million times.
It was uploaded by the official Duolingo TikTok account in collaboration with Scub Daddy, and illustrates the Tiktok marketing trend of taking a more chaotic approach to branding.
Such an approach is even being adopted by major Australian brands such as Jetstar who jumped on the Telephone trend, as advised by Tiktok branding company We The People.
Throughout the video, different members of the flight crew can be seen walking around the plane lip singing ‘Telephone’ by Beyonce and Lady Gaga.
That social media advert has nearly 1 million views, making it Jetstar’s most viewed video.
According to CEO and founder of Moonrise Social Club Mario Mareno Sears this is a form of disruptive marketing, which is a marketing tactic that seeks to go against the norms and use experimental methods like the ones seen on TikTok.
“I think the appeal is it is almost unexpected or borderline inappropriate in comparison to standard “professional” brands, which inherently makes it interesting to follow and engage with,” Sears says.
Tommy Kuo, a TikTok producer from We The People, says he believes more Australian brands should adopt this method of marketing as he believes Australians “love and crave an authentic brand”.
He also says that TikTok opens up new avenues for advertisers.
This includes TikTok’s Brand Takeover which is a short video from a brand that plays in fullscreen as soon as a user opens the app.
“This advert can generally reach tens of millions of users, and signals to the user that this featured brand is the ‘hot’ brand of the day,” he says.
He says there are other features on the app such as filters and effects that make the advertisements more interactive for users.
Accounts that undertake this form of marketing typically have more engagement, with accounts such as DuoLingo having 4.2 million followers.
This goes for Australian brands such as Virgin Australia with 20k followers and Telstra with 89.3k followers.
This is because TikTok typically reaches a younger audience within the Gen Z or Millenial age range who typically have better digital literacy.
But Sears would not suggest this for every brand as the audience on TikTok is more knowledgeable about social media marketing and is able to identify what is and isn’t authentic.
“Social media brand management is very much built on driving engagement and a relationship with your audience,” he says.
“It is a complex marketing channel that takes an expert to build authentic content and strategy.”
Sears expands on the differences between traditional media advertising and social media marketing.
He says they are vastly different in the ways they intend to reach people.
“TV ads and traditional media are focused on reach and impressions – social media is an eco-system with different platforms delivering different content types with varying objectives,” he says.
For this reason, he believes only brands who have a strong sense of brand identity online should be participating in trends and using the kind of chaotic marketing we see on TikTok.
“Brands have to build a separate vertical, short-form video identity and they have never had to do that on any other platform,” he says.
“If they are a brand with a strong identity and know how to authentically show up for their audience then they should. If not, it’s a bit like my grandma trying to use slang without knowing the meaning.”
Tommy Kuo even says that TikTok even has a different ecosystem than other social media platforms such as Instagram.
“As we’re growing out of the phase of seeing brands be ‘perfect’ on Instagram, we tend to enjoy seeing brands let loose and break conventional marketing rules on TikTok, which is what makes them so entertaining,” he says.
Kuo also says if current trends don’t suit them, brands can create their own.
An example of this is McDonald’s Australia’s campaign last year where the fast food giant TikTokified their ‘I’m lovin’ it jingle’ with DJ Paris Lawrence.
The jingle was made to promote its 50th anniversary and has been used 22.7k times.
Overall, Sears says that creating an identity online has many different factors to consider that are both visual and audio based.