How Mucinex enlisted TikTok creators to push cold medicine

Advertisers exploring how to reach people on the hottest, new app, TikTok, might not know where to start in such unfamiliar terrain. That’s where TikTok’s 3-month-old Creator Marketplace comes in, connecting advertisers and influential TikTok creators.

TikTok’s Creator Marketplace lets advertisers use parameters and filters such as follower count, content creation topics and audience analysis to find creators and see performance metrics for invited, verified creators.

Mucinex worked with TikTok on a Halloween-themed campaign using the hashtag #TooSickToBeSick, launching it as a challenge this Monday. It marked the first time TikTok has worked with an over-the-counter medicine product, and it was the first time Mucinex had advertised on TikTok.

The challenge runs through Nov. 2 and has already garnered more than 105 million views, encouraging TikTok users to show how they transform from being too sick to “so sick” and ready to celebrate Halloween.

The ad campaign came together in about a month, and TikTok helped connect Mucinex to three of the four creators who developed sponsored posts for the challenge. One of the sponsored posts from creator @ourfire, whom Mucinex found via the TikTok Creator Marketplace, has received 862,500 likes and 1,321 comments.

The TikTok Creator Marketplace introduced Mucinex to TikTok video creator @ourfire. Photo: Mucinex

The sponsored posts from creators capitalize on a popular type of TikTok post that showcases a transformation, and they feature an original sound that Mucinex’s ad agency, McCann, found especially for the campaign.

“I really thought music and dance would be the primary source of trends on TikTok and that’s a big part of the trends, but there are so many other things people are engaging with on the platform, like transformation videos and humorous videos,” said Elyse Altabet, marketing director for Mucinex. “They have a lot to offer to different advertisers in terms of insights and engaging new audiences.”

Mucinex wouldn’t disclose how much it spent on this hashtag challenge, one of five advertising products TikTok currently offers. According to Kantar, Mucinex has spent $29.56 million in the first half of 2019 on media spend; last year, it spent a total of $58.34 million on advertising.

However, a recently leaked TikTok pitch deck from June 2019 priced a six-day hashtag challenge package at $150,000. In that same deck, a recent hashtag challenge from clothing brand Guess Jeans, #inmydenim, amassed 10.4 million views and got 6,000 people to create videos with the hashtag. A TikTok spokesperson said that, for now, access to the Creator Marketplace is included for companies running campaigns on TikTok.

For Mucinex, in particular, Altabet said they were looking for creators with high levels of engagement and mix in terms of their styles, with regard to how many graphics they use or how many artistic overlays or changes they incorporated.

“This allowed all types of users to feel engaged and participate as part of the challenge, and the marketplace helped us navigate and find the right creators for us in a short time period,” she said. Getting in touch with creators and working with them on the videos, she said, was “very seamless.”

Instead of buying an ad package with TikTok like Mucinex did, Kind, the snack bar company, recently launched its first-ever TikTok campaign on Oct. 24 to promote its newest product, the Simple Crunch bar. Unlike Mucinex, Kind created the majority of campaign content in-house within three to four weeks, and found four creators to partner with to develop videos.

“Within the first 24 hours, the campaign received nearly 20 million organic views,” said Jessica Goon, vp of digital marketing at Kind. “We also received a 34% increase in traffic to the Simple Crunch page in relation to the campaign being live for one week.”

Goon said Kind decided to find creators on its own, instead of using TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, because, “We’ve historically identified all creators and influencers in-house and wanted to continue to do so to ensure the right brand fit.”

The inaugural post features Kind CEO Daniel Lubetzky and promotes the #kindsimplecrunchcontest where users who use the hashtag in posts featuring the new bar can win a trip for two to New York City. One sponsored post from creator @zachking, a play on Grant Wood’s famous American Gothic painting, has gotten 3.6 million likes and 5,500 comments.

Both Altabet and Goon said their respective experiences in using TikTok to promote their brands and products weren’t wildly different from campaigns they’ve run on other platforms but said they are looking to do more on TikTok going forward.

Kind didn’t buy any ad packages from TikTok for this campaign, but Goon hasn’t ruled out doing so in the future. “This campaign is just the beginning for us. We will always consider the platform’s offerings, like the Creator Marketplace, when developing a program.” Last year, Kind spent $28.74 million on advertising and in the first half of 2019, it spent $13 million, according to Kantar.

Mucinex, too, is already thinking of other ways it can run more campaigns on TikTok. “It’s a wonderful learning opportunity for us to really understand the platform and think about how we drive engagement in new and fun ways. The experience already has given us lots of ideas for what we can do in the future,” Altabet said.

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