7 Brands Crushing the TikTok Game

November 21, 2020

TikTok’s popularity is on the rise and many marketers are scrambling to uncover if they should even get involved with it or not. The app created by a Chinese tech company called ByteDance allows users to show their creative side to their peers and ‘community’ through short mobile videos. The latest statistics of the app show that it has 700 million daily active users and is valued at $78 Billion as of 2019. The numbers alone make it an extremely attractive proposition for brands to get involved.

Although the app is new and the rise in its popularity has been sudden, a lot of brands are still contemplating on how to be part of it and take advantage of its potential. For understanding and learning purposes, we’ve compiled a list of 7 brands who are acing the game on TikTok.

1. NBA

TikTok has light-hearted content and NBA has assimilated itself well with the nature of the app. The brand boasts 5.1 million fans and uses this opportunity to make its stars look approachable to the audience. There are videos with their mascot performing cool slam-dunks, players working out to upbeat music and engaging motivational content. Although the brand does not steer away from its core product, the game; it does use the platform to make itself relatable and relevant to young users.

In this video, the NBA shows off a highlight reel of a gorilla mascot doing tricks and slam dunks:


🦍 ☀️ The Gorilla shows out for Phoenix Suns #teamday! #mascot

♬ Summer Days - Martin Garrix / Macklemore / Patrick Stump

Occasionally the NBA will post motivational posts:


“19 years I’ve been working so hard & it all came out.” - RJ Barrett #motivationmonday #teamday

♬ original sound - nba

If any brand is planning to capture the hearts of Gen Z members, the platform presents the perfect chance to do it.

2. The Washington Post

One of the earliest brands to join TikTok was The Washington Post. As a news publication, it makes sense for it to always have top-of-mind recall; therefore they took the opportunity with both hands and embraced the fun side of the app. Since the nature of a news publication business is serious, we were taken back by surprise on how well they integrated themselves using relevant content.

Here's one great example where the news team discusses The Bachelorette instead of the Democratic Debates:

While this account is far from a breaking news page, posts occasionally infuse news and quotes into their videos. Here's an example:


Four million a year is still a lot though #demdebate #kamalaharris

♬ mom im famous - chiefokeefe

Just like NBA, their approach is funny, smart and raw – all the characteristics that youngsters love and appreciate. From discussing the Bachelorette as seriously as the Democratic Debates to comedic takes on serious news, the Washington Post is all about involving the audience in a smart, quick-witted manner.

3. Chipotle

If you’re a part of the food and restaurant industry, you should definitely check out Chipotle’s TikTok marketing, which is a good benchmark. The Mexican Restaurant Chain has 55,000 fans who have the pleasure to engage with fun, snackable content.

The brand’s approach involves menu promotion but in a way that is relatable and not too pushy. We all know by now how opposed millennials and Gen Zs are to advertising, so much that most of them use ad-blockers during browsing. In a situation like this, it is best to approach them by speaking in their language.

The brand used Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ to celebrate a year of TikTok showing tortilla chips surrounded by a guac bowl. They also created content for National Avocado Day by using ‘The Guacamole’s Song’. The video had a promotional message but since it had an entertainment value attached to it, the audience did not mind.


TFW guac is free. Online/in-app only 7/31 #GuacDance Terms: chip.tl/avoday

♬ The Guacamole Song - Dr. Jean

The brand can also be credited for creating one of the most popular branded campaigns on TikTok called the ‘Guac Dance Challenge’. This campaign was the perfect recipe for user-generated content and had people participate by sending in videos of themselves having fun and living it up with avocados


Wátch this twice to see if my mom did it on purpose 🙈🙉 chipotle #GuacDance

♬ The Guacamole Song - Dr. Jean

4. Guess

Guess is pretty new to TikTok and is only three-posts old. It has gathered 35,000 fans already and is one of the pioneers on the platform.

Guess was the first player in the industry to launch a branded challenge on the app called ‘In my Denim’. The challenge asked the users to send in videos of themselves wearing Guess’s New Denim Line with Bebe Rexha’s ‘I’m A Mess’ as a background overlay. They got a phenomenal response and the audience was happy to be a part of the conversation.

One key takeaway from Guess’s campaign is that the audience resonates with real people, an approach that helps spread word-of-mouth and create buzz.

5. San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo took advantage of people’s interest in cute animals and turned it into the perfect promotional strategy.

Not only this, they have successfully collaborated with other animal-centric accounts and created a remarkable buzz. This route seems to be working extremely well for them and their fan base numbers are on the rise.

The brand is luckily a perfect fit for the app and it shows.

6. United Nations IFAD

Agriculture and World Hunger is probably not the most interesting of topics and drawing people’s attention to it can be a bit of a challenge. The United Nations IFAD, however, got creative with their approach by encouraging the audience to ‘Dance for Change’. They launched the campaign through a video to set the tone.


With only one ingredient like sesame, women from Chad 🇷🇴 can make a lot of products 🍲

♬ original sound - ifad

The videos do not mitigate the seriousness of the issues discussed but they make tough topics more consumable. It is also a clever way to spread awareness and in a space that is cluttered with messages right, left and center, it certainly grabs attention. The route used by IFAD is informative and allows people to absorb serious issues easily.


sherriesilver Together we can feed the world 🌎 ❤️👊🏽 mreazi let’s #danceforchange

♬ Freedom - Mr. Eazi, Guiltybeatz, J.Derobie

7. NBC's Stay Tuned

This network was one of the brands to take advantage of Snapchat’s growing audience and started a News Show on the app aimed at Gen-Z.

After its success on Snapchat, it launched on TikTok and started creating event and pop-culture related content but in a way that engages the audiences.

In fact, if you had to look for one brand which has perfectly tailored its message across different platforms, NBC serves as a good case study.


This fast food chain is #1... 🍔🍟🍗🌮🌯 (seriously) #summerwins #fastfoodlife

♬ original sound - staytunednbc

In another post, a Stay Tuned host does a good job of explaining complicated AI news in a short amount of time:


#timetravel with Mona BUT she could be “fake” 😏🧐

♬ original sound - staytunednbc

How Brands Should Approach TikTok

Gen-Z has a lot of potential and even though they might not be the biggest spenders at this point in time, they are the next big group that brands should aim at.  We know how much time is spent on it by users therefore it is imperative that we analyze how to best take advantage of it.

  • You must know by now that marketing is increasingly becoming consumer-driven which makes it important to not only listen to your audience but also have a conversation with them that they enjoy. TikTok is one such platform that gives you the perfect opportunity to engage consumers and interact with them.
  • The app is still new in the market but we know that the rule to rule it is to experiment and have fun with it. Some campaigns may work for you and some may not but the thrill of the ride is not to limit yourself when it comes to being creative.
  • The app is all about creativity and entertainment, therefore your message should also fit the same criteria. An opportunity to show your consumers that you are relatable and know how to have fun is exactly what you need to remain relevant.

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