TikTok flaunts its good vibes in TV ad centered on viral ‘Dreams’ video

Dive Brief:

  • TikTok debuted a new commercial, “Good Vibes,” that centers on a post that has taken the internet by storm and features the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams.”
  • Part of the platform’s broader “It Starts on TikTok” campaign, the 15-second spot shows a video by user Nathan Apodaca (@420doggface208) as he lip-syncs to the 1977 single, as well as creators and celebrities, including Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood, paying tribute to the viral post. Created with agency Known, the ad first aired around the MLB playoffs Thursday, according to Ad Age.
  • TikTok continues to position itself as a destination for uplifting content that commands the social media conversation, which could reassure users and brands concerned over its future. The Justice Department on Thursday appealed a judge’s order blocking a ban on new downloads of the app, per The New York Times.

Dive Insight:

TikTok is ramping up advertising efforts amid renewed threats to its viability in the U.S. The Trump administration this week appealed an injunction on an order that would have blocked new downloads and software updates to the app starting Sept. 20. If the injunction issued last month by Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court in Washington is lifted, TikTok will not be shuttered, but rather see its growth stymied in a key market. The app will be banned outright if it is unable to secure a deal in the U.S. by Nov. 12.

Given the uncertainty, TikTok is potentially feeling a fresh imperative to quell the concerns of users and brands that have helped the app spike in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. With “Good Vibes,” the platform is making Apodaca a sort of standard-bearer as to why TikTok continues to captivate people.

An unknown until last month, Apodaca blew up overnight thanks to a laidback video of him skateboarding while sipping Ocean Spray and lip-syncing to “Dreams.” Lauded for its blissful quality, the post first shared on Sept. 25 has over 33 million views at press time, and has pushed the Fleetwood Mac single to its highest streaming numbers ever in the U.S.

A variety of companies, creators and public figures have moved in quickly to capitalize on the buzz around Apodaca — a memetic trend that TikTok emphasizes as a core part of its appeal in “Good Vibes.” A worker at an Idaho potato warehouse, Apodaca was skateboarding in the original video because his car had broken down. Earlier this week, Ocean Spray gifted him a new cranberry-red truck and helped him recreate the “Dreams” post, and the more brand-oriented iteration of the TikTok video has also gone viral.

Such stories allow TikTok to center its business around feel-good narratives that users and brands can participate in thanks to app features like duets and hashtag challenges. In August, as it faced the initial threat of a U.S. ban, the ByteDance-owned platform rolled out its first consumer-facing ad campaign with “It Starts on TikTok,” which focuses on how the service affects “every facet of culture” and has become a major trendsetter online.

TikTok has come under fire from the Trump administration due to ByteDance’s roots in China. The White House believes the app could share sensitive personal information on U.S. users with Chinese officials, a claim that TikTok has repeatedly denied. The app sued the Trump administration earlier this year over the ban order, while ByteDance is scrambling to iron out a deal with Oracle and Walmart that will allow its U.S. operations to continue.

Beyond contending with an aggressive U.S. government, TikTok has to deal with several competitive threats in the social media space. Facebook’s Instagram in August launched a lookalike feature called Reels, which has quickly drawn the interest of marketers like Target and General Mills. However, Reels videos have yet to steer the news cycle in the same way that TikTok posts like Apodaca’s have. In fact, many Reels videos are simply repurposed TikTok content.

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