What TikTok Thinks Brands Should—and Shouldn't—Take Away From Ocean Spray's Viral Moment

No one could have possibly been prepared for this confluence of events—and therein lies the beauty.

For the rare few who may have missed this, on Sept. 25, Nathan Apodaca of Idaho Falls, Idaho, posted a TikTok video featuring him skateboarding to work due to a broken down car, drinking Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice and signing along to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.

With more 55 million views and counting, the video led to the band’s Mick Fleetwood and Ocean Spray CEO Tom Hayes joining the platform to share their responses, as well as a new pickup truck for Apodaca, courtesy of the beverage brand. It even resulted in a new spot for TikTok.

Apodaca wasn’t the only winner, as the value of Ocean Spray shares has nearly doubled since late September, and “Dreams” reached No. 1 on iTunes and returned to the Billboard charts for the first time since 1977, reaching No. 21.

TikTok managing director and global head of business marketing Katie Puris called it a signature moment for the platform, and told Adweek that it was an “amplification of what happens when our community comes together, and it amplifies the core spirit of TikTok.”

Puris pointed to the theme of TikTok’s presentation at the 2020 Digital Content NewFronts in June, which was Don’t make ads: Make TikToks, and discussed how the platform’s format enables brands to show up in natural ways, with an easy flow from users’ videos to brands’ videos. She added that the TikTok community has embraced interacting and connecting with brands, to the point where millions of people are creating their own “commercials” on their own time to post on TikTok.

Puris’ advice to brands is to open the app, see what the first 10 TikToks are and pay special attention to the comments, but try not to chase trends.

“Brands have an opportunity to reflect on who they are as a brand, what they stand for and what that means in how they show up on TikTok,” she said. “Focus in on those core values.”

Mirroring one of the concepts that makes TikTok so popular among its users, Puris added, “Brands don’t have to feel like they need to show up as being perfect. Our community doesn’t expect that from them.”

So how can the next brand catch lighting in a bottle like Ocean Spray did?

Puris acknowledged the massive amount of planning by brands and agencies around events like product launches, and how their marketing spending is structured with business metrics in mind, but cautioned that TikTok requires a different mindset.

“You can’t plan for viral,” she said. “Don’t just wait for a moment to be opportunistic, but plan for this to be a component in the way you think about building your brand all of the time, with an always-on strategy. And have a plan in place for when these opportunities do show up.”