Freshpet, which pioneered the fresh pet food category, may not know what a dog or cat needs to become a TikTok legend. But it’s sure many people are willing to put their pets out there, so it's running a new campaign aimed at stoking user-generated content.
It all starts with TikTok's Sound tools, the customizable building blocks people can use for their own videos. "We didn't see any other brands using them," says Steve Elwell, Freshpet's director of digital marketing.
"Lots of brands are posting videos on TikTok, and some are even using the sounds that have gone viral on other posts. They’ll try to do their take on it," he tells Marketing Daily. "But they aren't contributing to that toolbox, making sounds designed to be reused."
So for the first phase of the effort, Freshpet went to some of its biggest fans, including influencers with large followings, offering to create a song just for that dog. “We figured, 'Who doesn't want a song about their dog?’"
Armed with video clips from that elite group, Freshpet went to its team at Remarkable Digital Group and asked for TikTok-worthy songs to match. "We'd ask for something in the style of '90s-boy-bands or '80s-hair-metal, and they'd get us something the next day."
Freshpet and the small circle of influencers started sharing the posts with a #FreshpetSoundBites hashtag.
Each of the bespoke tunes, however, had some inherently generic components, like "Dog in a Sweater," '"Treat Heist," or "It's a big-jowled baby.T
"We also did songs for the most popular dog names," he says. "And even if people don't have a Bella, Luna or Max, they could chop out a piece of the song and still use it.
So even though we were making specific songs for semi-celebrity influencer dogs or those with certain names, the repertoire because a TikTok tool kit," he says. Other pet parents chimed in with duets and reaction videos.
Finally, the brand turned the campaign into a sweepstakes, rewarding some lucky winners with an original song for their pet.
Freshpet is on TikTok to reach younger viewers, says Elwell. And while only a small percentage of the 150 million active U.S. TikTok watchers post content, "we know younger people are generally more inclined to be creators, and we thought this campaign could give them the tools to feed that creative instinct."
Will any of these new creations go viral, achieving the TikTok fame of hi.this.is.tatum, Tremé & Laveau or Noodles the Pug (R.I.P.)?
Elwell concedes he has no idea. "What dogs go viral relies on a weird butterfly effect,” he says. “It takes a kind of an X factor of being in the right place at the right time with the right people in the right mood. Then all that needs to keep repeating itself. That's when things become unstoppable.”
Freshpet, which claims a 96% market share in brick-and-mortar sales of fresh pet food, is pleased with the results so far and says the effort continues to build affinity and organic reach.
"We didn't put promotional dollars behind it because TikTok can't yet promote just a sound," he says. "We hope it will have that capability soon. We'd like to take this from where we are, with hundreds of thousands of views, and to millions of people."