TikTok is well-known for producing influencers who make it big, and creating lucrative personal brands. But beyond influencers, the platform presents a huge opportunity for well-established brands to grow revenue. In this blog, we’ll cover 16 marketing case studies where brands saw success from leveraging TikTok.
In 2021, KFC wanted to bring their chicken sandwich advertising campaign to a wider audience. To make this happen, they focused the bulk of their campaign on two TopView ads, or sponsored videos that TikTok users see when they first open the app. They partnered with prominent TikTok creators to use fun music, dance, and Colonel Sanders impersonations to grab attention.
The campaign brought in a whopping 221 million video views for KFC, an engagement rate of 9.3%, and a TopView click-through rate of 13.8%, according to TikTok for Business. The brand also saw a 24.7% increase in ad recall rate, which was part of the significant growth in sandwich sales — even selling out in some locations.
Partner with already-established TikTokers: Finding influencers who already have a prominent following is key for any large brand, and can help boost your return on investment (ROI). Though KFC is practically a household name, partnering with smaller-scale content creators worked to their advantage — it allowed them to tap into the trust that smaller influencers have with their followers.
Crumbl, a cookie business best known for their ever-changing menu, releases new flavors every Sunday. To build awareness and excitement, they used Spark Ads to help accomplish their goal of hitting 1 million followers on TikTok, which allows brands to boost their own organic posts.
They made their product the star of the show by releasing behind-the-scenes videos of how their cookies are made. Crumbl also capitalized on the highly effective use of hashtags. #Crumblreview and #tasteweekly were the brand’s top hashtags, with #crumblreview alone netting over 231 million views.
Sticking to the basics can work: Crumbl kept it simple with short, snappy videos and hashtags. The brand hit its 1 million follower mark quickly — then upped its goal to 2 million and also achieved that milestone during the two-month campaign.
Long known as a technology leader, HP’s most recent goal is to become the most sustainable technology company. One large part of this goal includes reducing plastics, so to get the word out about the new initiative, HP turned to TikTok to amplify their message.
HP’s main strategy for its TikTok campaign leaned on partnerships with TikTok creators to promote the #HPRadicalResuse hashtag challenge. The videos posted by HP’s partners showed ways that we all can reuse in our everyday lives.
In addition to the influencer partnerships, HP tapped into One Day Max In-Feed Ads to increase the reach of its campaign. This ultimately brought in 38 million impressions and more than 36 million video views in a single day. The brand also utilized Reach & Frequency Spark Ads to ensure that TikTok users were seeing the videos through the campaign.
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Social issues can be successful: In today’s world, consumers want to support brands that align with their personal values. Through this campaign, HP showed the world that it could do just that. After the campaign, HP’s brand favorability increased by 1.9%.
With the goal of tapping into adult snackers’ nostalgia, Goldfish used TikTok to re-engage long-time fans. The brand came up with the #GoForTheHandful hashtag challenge. Similar to HP, Goldfish capitalized on TikTokers’ love of challenges, but made it more competitive by encouraging its user base to see how many Goldfish crackers they could fit in their hand at one time. Best of all, the winner got to take home a year’s worth of Goldfish.
Goldfish partnered with TikTok influencers as well as NBA basketball player Boban Marjanovic — who has the largest hands in NBA history — to spread the word and build hype. The brand also used a hashtag emoji challenge by including the bright orange goldfish emoji alongside the hashtag.
Another successful element of this campaign was Goldfish’s use of a separate challenge page called @goldfishsmiles, which included all the information about the contest.
Finally, the brand ran television ads, as well as ads on other platforms, to promote the #GoForTheHandful challenge.
Cross-promote your campaign: For a brand as big as Goldfish, laying down the dollars to expand its reach probably wasn’t an issue. But even if your brand doesn’t have a ton of funds to dedicate to ads or celebrity features, think about creative ways to expand your campaign beyond a single social media platform. This strategy helped Goldfish see a post-campaign brand lift of 19.2%.
Lawn-care company Scotts may already have a worldwide following, but the brand wanted to expand its audience to include more young people. So, it turned to TikTok by adapting a Super Bowl campaign for the platform.
Using a hashtag challenge alongside a TikTok-adapted commercial featuring John Travolta, Scotts rolled out a contest that encouraged TikTokers to get outside and think about their lawns. The brand incorporated the Scotts Slide — a dance that Travolta and his daughter Ella performed during a Super Bowl commercial — as part of the TikTok challenge, using the hashtag #DoTheScottsSlide.
In two days, the hashtag saw 2 billion video views, and 1.4 million TikTok users had created videos for the campaign.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel: If you have a campaign that worked, stick with it! #DoTheScottsSlide is a great example of how any brand can take a successful campaign and adapt it to a different platform.
6) Morning Brew
In an effort to boost its number of quality subscribers, subscription-based media company Morning Brew tried its first paid TikTok campaign utilizing Spark Ads.
Morning Brew stuck to the basics by partnering with a TikTok influencer who created a video that was 80% native TikTok skit and 20% call to action that aligned with Morning Brew’s message. This ratio gave the TikTok creator more control and creativity than many other brand partnerships.
The campaign was successful, beating its target CPA by 60%. TikTok for Business reports that, “Morning Brew [also] gained 70,000 registration subscribers and reached 23 million impressions on TikTok.”
Give influencers creativity and autonomy: When utilizing influencer marketing, let creators be creative — after all, it’s in their job title! Allowing creators (a reasonable amount of) autonomy ensures that the content is relatable and feels authentic to their audience, which makes their followers more likely to consider using the brand they’re promoting.
To drive brand awareness and reach with a focus on a young, multicultural audience, McDonald’s used it’s already-established TikTok community to help push customers into its stores.
The campaign focused on posting up-close shots of McDonald’s food offerings — previously used in TV ads — paired with a voiceover and layover text.
McDonald’s used Auction In-Feed Ads on TikTok, which helped the brand to target audience members who watched a two-second video from another campaign. The ad had over 45 million impressions.
The brand also leveraged TikTok’s partnership with OpenSlate, which gives brands greater control over their ad placement.
Keep brand safety in mind: When running ads on social media, you’ll want to think about where exactly your ad is being run. TikTok’s OpenSlate partnership helped McDonald’s to target their desired audience without having to worry about whether or not their ad would show up alongside content that didn’t align with their brand.
Online thrift shop Goodfair is best known for their creating mystery bundles — boxes of pre-loved clothing that’s chosen based on a theme. The brand already has a solid following of more than 400,000 followers on TikTok, but was seeking to drive more conversions on its website.
Goodfair leaned heavily on organic strategies like leveraging user-generated content, as well as boosting unboxing videos by their employees. Coupling this with In-Feed Ads, Goodfair was able to accomplish its goal of providing behind-the-scenes TikTok content, as well as educational content, surrounding ethical fashion.
The campaign helped the brand decrease its TikTok cost per click (CPC) by over 15% and increase its click-through rate (CTR) by over 87%.
Boost your credibility: Goodfair’s brand is all about decreasing the consumption of fast fashion across generations. By focusing videos on educating followers about the fast fashion industry, the brand continued to build its expertise and gained trust among its customers.
9) Little Caesars
Well-known national pizza chain Little Caesars saw an opportunity with TikTok when it launched its Stuffed Crazy Bread in mid-2020. To get people talking, the brand partnered with 13 TikTok creators for an influencer marketing campaign.
The premise was for the influencers to demonstrate the unique way they #GoCrazy after taking a bite of Little Caesars’ new Stuffed Crazy Bread. Influencers featured in the campaign included Olympian Gabby Douglas, the McFarland Family, and Nathan Davis Jr.
Using a combination of paid and organic strategies, Little Caesars wanted to show up organically in TikTok users’ “For You” pages as much as possible. To help make this possible, the brand allowed their partners total creative freedom to shoot the video however they wanted. Interestingly enough, this choice revealed that popular TikTok families saw higher CTRs than celebrities.
Family creators can be a great partnership to boost CTR: Because Little Caesars worked with a diverse group of influencers, the brand was able to see what types of creators performed best. While most people would expect A-list celebrities and athletes to garner the most action, for Little Caesars, the McFarlands and Nathan Davis Jr. (with his mom) performed the best. This may be something to keep in mind when you’re searching for influencers to work with your brand.
EBay has always been a place for popular and rare sneakers, but in 2021, the ecommerce brand created a TikTok campaign to draw in younger generations of sneakerheads (millennials and Gen Zers).
Along with the help of a marketing agency, eBay launched this campaign to “celebrate the deep connections between sneaker culture, music, and dance,” according to TikTok for Business. EBay’s campaign included a branded hashtag challenge using a custom song that featured the lyrics, “got my sneaks on eBay” and the hashtag #LaceEmUp.
To round out the campaign, the brand partnered with eight TikTok influencers to create videos using the custom song and hashtag, and then put some dollars behind the videos to amplify the reach.
Following the campaign, eBay reported positive user sentiment with many sharing they would use eBay to look for sneakers in the future. The #LaceEmUp challenge also inspired over 500,000 people to create TikTok videos.
Use music to stand out: TikTok is known for its music and dances, so why not capitalize on that by creating a tune specific to your brand’s campaign? This marketing strategy proved highly effective for eBay’s #LaceEmUp campaign, and encouraged a younger generation of sneakerheads to consider using eBay.
Known for its sleeping bags and jackets, Moncler has become a highly sought-after brand for those seeking fashionable warmth. The brand tapped into TikTok to promote its various collections, as well as drive new followers to its TikTok page..
The brand used rapper Ty Dolla $ign’s hit track “Bubble” to launch the #MonclerBubbleUp challenge, which encouraged TikTokers to create looks using household items that resembled Moncler’s famous jackets.
The campaign was launched worldwide, which included paid TikTok ads in Italy and France, and brought in 7 billion views, which led to 170,000 new followers for Moncler.
If you have a worldwide audience, capitalize on it: Right out of the gate, Moncler was able to reach a worldwide audience by investing in paid ads in Europe and collaborating with TikTok creators in the U.S. and the U.K. As explained by TikTok for Business, “The challenge shattered benchmarks, exceeding expectations and reaching new users from across the globe.”
Many people over the age of 25 may remember the Mucinex commercials with the infamous Mr. Mucus, but the brand identified that Gen Z wasn’t as familiar. Mucinex launched a TikTok campaign to promote its Nightshift product line, specifically targeting Gen Z.
Mucinex created a 360-degree campaign that included a #BeatTheZombieFunk branded hashtag challenge, collaborations with TikTok influencers, a Branded Effect that featured a dancing Mr. Mucus, and a sweepstakes surrounding the Zombie Funk dance.
The campaign only ran for only nine days, but more than 500,000 TikTokers joined in. As a result, the campaign earned Mucinex almost 6 billion views.
Always keep your target audience in mind: Through the #BeatTheZombieFunk campaign, Mucinex shows us that even an older well-established brand can relate to the youngest of customers by utilizing all that TikTok has to offer. If you want to branch out and target a new audience, go where that audience goes and adapt to the platform — in this case, TikTok.
Fast-food chain Chipotle noticed its name was being dropped left and right on TikTok and decided to capitalize on it by creating its official business TikTok account in 2018. Unlike other brands, Chipotle keeps it casual on TikTok by sharing content that has a distinctly low-key and down-to-earth feel.
The brand has run two branded hashtag challenges to further engage its audience, but relies heavily on comedy sketches and reposting fan content. Since Chipotle’s TikTok debut, they have gained over 1.3 million followers and over 20 million likes on their 100+ videos.
Listen to your online community: Regardless of the size of your brand, it’s vital to keep an eye on what people are saying about you online. Follow hashtags related to your brand, and set up Google Alerts to make this process easier. Many times, the best ideas can come from your fans — which can even save you money along the way.
Grooming tool company Manscaped was one of the first companies to utilize the self-service tools provided by TikTok back in 2019. With TikTok, they saw an opportunity to get the word out about their brand while keeping their budget low.
Spending as little as possible, Manscaped focused on frequent educational and creative videos surrounding grooming hygiene and boosted these videos through In-Feed ads. The brand pushed more money into campaigns surrounding their products, the Lawnmower 2.0 and Lawnmower 3.0, around holidays like Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, Black Friday, and Christmas.
You don’t need to spend a lot to see results: Manscaped saw impressive cost efficiency from a CPM perspective, according to TikTok for Business. Even though the investment was small, the brand gained 151 million impressions using creative, always-on strategies.
Discover more must-read TikTok strategy tips here.
As a leading dating app, Bumble approached TikTok marketing and advertising with the goal of increasing app downloads. Their strategy focused heavily on leaning into authenticity, which showed success in the past.
Bumble partnered with TikTok influencers — each with multi-million user followings — to produce and share creative, native-looking ads. This supported the brand’s already-established trustworthy and relatable reputation. This simple, yet effective technique, along with putting some money behind videos for In-Feed Ads, resulted in a “5x increase in app install volume since the start of Bumble’s TikTok program while achieving a 64% decrease in cost-per-registration,” as TikTok for Business reports.
Don’t make ads, make TikToks: Traditional digital marketing and advertising techniques don’t work on TikTok, mainly because users can tell they are ads. That’s where the mantra “Don’t make ads, make TikToks” comes in. Simply put, if you want to be successful on TikTok, create your brand’s content with authenticity and relatability in mind.
Even the most chic brands are joining TikTok in droves. Fashion brand Fendi created its TikTok channel to help build their Gen Z follower base.
Fendi approached their promotion by running five In-Feed ads upon its TikTok profile launch. The campaign was called “F is for…” and each of the five ads corresponded to a different one of Fendi’s core values: family, fearlessness, freedom, friendship, and the future.
From just five ads, Fendi saw an initial wave of 15,000 new followers as well as an average CTR that outperformed its benchmark by over 158%.
Simplicity can be highly effective: Fendi proved that utilizing an already-established aspect of your brand — like your company values — and focusing on a limited number of high-quality ads can be extremely effective.
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