Amid Uncertainty About TikTok Ban, Brands Can't Avoid The Platform

As the government considers trying to ban TikTok, brand marketers have become just as dependent on the platform—if not more so—as its more than 150 million U.S. users.

Regulators are mostly concerned that TikTok—owned by Chinese government internet behemoth ByteDance—would share user information so that Chinese officials could spy on Americans.

Nearly half of U.S. voters support a ban on TikTok, according to a 1,500-respondent poll conducted for The Wall Street Journal.

Not surprisingly, only 12% of people who use the app weekly or more favor a ban.

If advertisers were surveyed, it’s doubtful they would vote to cut a digital lifeline to consumers—particularly those under the age of 30—who have come to depend on TikTok not only for content ranging from entertainment to lifestyles to politics, but as a search engine as well.

A case in point is General Mills, which recently redesigned the logos of its iconic sweet treats Gushers and Fruit by the Foot in an effort to connect with teenagers.

General Mills turned to TikTok creator Emily Zugay, who shared her blunt, no-holds-barred design recommendations for the brands and redesigned their logos.

Within hours of their release last week, four related videos had garnered in excess of 3.4 million views.

“Our audiences for these brands live on social, so we designed the launch in the language they speak and the type of content they enjoy,” General Mills senior content planner, brand experience, tells CPG Insider.

“With our brand mission for Gushers to 'defy norms and unleash what's on the inside,' partnering with the unexpected wit of Emily Zugay to roast our current logos and help us with inspiration for our new designs was too perfect.

“Additionally, Fruit by the Foot is all about extending the fun, so we wanted to build out a content series that kept people coming back for more.”

CreatorIQ, which pairs brand like Cheetos and Chobani with content creators, says it has become TikTok’s first SaaS creator marketing partner—giving the company access to access to first-party insights on such things as audience demographics, growth trends and best-performing videos.

"On a platform like TikTok, where 90% of users are checking the app multiple times a day and 64% trust creators for purchasing suggestions, brands can connect with consumers throughout their purchase journey," CreatorIQ senior vice president of corporate marketing Brit Starr tells CPG Insider.

In a recent report, CreatorIQ cited TikTok data showing that “roughly half of consumers will research a product after seeing a creator endorsement, and more than half of this group will ultimately purchase the advertised product.”

CreatorIQ’s tips for food and beverage brands on TikTok include choosing creators who “understand your target consumers” and allow you to “riff on organic trends” while ensuring content feels authentic “by granting creators artistic freedom while still clearly communicating campaign guidelines.”

Given the climate of uncertainty surrounding the potential for a ban on TikTok, the Davis+Gilbert law firm recommends that brands and their agencies consider contingency plans—including reallocating advertising dollars and reconsidering long-term ad buys on the platform.

“On the influencer front, brands and agencies should update their existing influencer agreements to include provisions that address the potential ban, such as termination rights, force majeure and make-goods,” Davis+Gilbert noted in a recent blog post.

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