Embattled TikTok Kicks Off Global Multichannel Campaign ‘It Starts on TikTok’

30-second anthem ‘Celebrating You’ is the backbone of the initiative

TikTok's campaign also features 15-second videos, matching the length of the videos created on its platform TikTok
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In the midst of threats of having its operations severely hamstrung by the administration of President Donald Trump and speculation about new ownership, TikTok kicked off its largest ad campaign in the U.S. to date.

“It Starts on TikTok” is a global multichannel campaign encompassing television, social platforms, digital media and out-of-home, and the heart of the campaign is 30-second brand anthem “Celebrating You.”

It also features 15-second videos, matching the length of the videos created on its platform, to celebrate the conversations, songs, stories and trends that have been born on TikTok and highlight some of the most recognized examples.

TikTok shared specifics in five categories.

  • Careers are born: Dixie A’melio used TikTok as a springboard to her music and acting career. “Bored in the House,” from Curtis Roach, went viral in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, tallying millions of views and landing him a collaboration with Tyga. Sketch videos by Sarah Cooper propelled her to a Netflix comedy special. And going back a year-and-a-half, cowboy hats appeared on dance floors worldwide due to “Old Town Road” from Lil Nas X.
  • Hobbies find a home: TikTok said people have been inspired to try new crafts, tackle new do-it-yourself projects and pursue newfound passions, offering as examples #CottageCore, #PlantsOfTikTok and #SkateTok.
  • Families come together: TikTok shared ways that families cook, dance, party and perform together, including Jalaiah Harmon and her mom encouraging handwashing, Jennifer Lopez and her kids trying something new and the McFarland family‘s #BlindingLights.
  • Learning is reimagined: Teachers are finding new ways to connect and reach students, while discovering their own talents along the way. Meanwhile, people have practiced recipes for healthy meals, studied new language and dabbled in loungewear during quarantine. And through it all, Bill Nye continues to show viewers that science is fun and entertaining.
  • Causes find supporters: Creator Lexy Kadey uses her videos to raise funds for huge tips for delivery people, performers, waiters and others. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk hosted a 12-hour livestream on TikTok that generated more than $2 million in donations to Meals on Wheels through the application’s Donation Stickers. A virtual concert benefiting the Equal Justice Initiative by rhythm-and-blues star The Weeknd scored over 2 million viewers. And there were almost 20 billion uses of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.

Ross Martin, president of Known, the agency that worked on the campaign with TikTok, said in an email, “Everyone knows that culture starts on TikTok, but this campaign does more than just remind us of its ubiquitous cultural force. It celebrates the authentic beauty, individuality and creativity of this community, and the human spirit that connects us all, especially in the most challenging times. We at Known are so proud to work with TikTok’s visionary marketing team, led by head of global marketing Nick Tran, to create this campaign and spread its powerful message around the world.”

TikTok said in a blog post, “Every new story created on TikTok is the start of an exciting journey. Videos travel far and wide as they’re discovered, shared and reimagined in Duets. As an idea catches on, so, too, does its impact across borders, cultures, languages and communities. What begins as seconds of authentic creativity often turns into much more: Careers blossom, memes develop, hobbies flourish, communities coalesce and obscure songs climb to the top of music charts. Once a story ‘For You,’ it becomes a story for her, for him, for them, for us.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.