TikTok Launches Biggest-Ever Ad Campaign as Its Fate Remains Cloudy

Within two months, TikTok’s U.S. business likely will be under the wing of a new owner — after Donald Trump’s move to force China’s ByteDance to divest the popular video app over what he says are national-security concerns.

Amid that backdrop of uncertainty, TikTok is carrying on in business-as-usual fashion: Starting this week in the U.S., it’s unleashing its biggest ad campaign to date, aiming to lure even more American users to the platform. With the tagline “It Starts on TikTok,” the global campaign — highlighting more than 30 creators on the platform — will run across social, digital media, out-of-home and linear TV.

“We basically wanted to celebrate the community and the creators who have made TikTok part of culture,” said Nick Tran, TikTok’s head of global marketing and a former Hulu exec.

TikTok ads in the U.S. will run on linear TV (including ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBC), digital media (Hulu and Spotify), digital out-of-home, radio (iHeartMedia) and on TikTok social channels including the app’s official @tiktok account as well as Twitter and Instagram.

Starting in September, the campaign will expand to global markets where TikTok operates, including the U.K., Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Tran declined to say how much the company is spending on the new ad campaign. He also wouldn’t directly comment on TikTok’s potential sale. The Trump administration is requiring ByteDance to divest TikTok’s U.S. business operations by Nov. 12; Microsoft has been in talks to buy the app, and now Oracle is reportedly in the mix as well.

“It’s not lost on me that this is TikTok’s year,” Tran said.

The new TikTok campaign is centered around a 30-second “brand anthem” spot, which is soundtracked with the song “Sing to Me” by Walter Martin featuring Karen O. Additional 15-second spots will “encapsulate the stories of the people who have made an impact through TikTok, highlight some of the today’s most-recognized online trends and popular songs, and showcase the role that TikTok has and will continue to play in the everyday lives of tens of millions of Americans,” according to the company. In addition, TikTok will run an extended 60-second spot on digital platforms like YouTube.

Watch the 30-second TikTok spot:

Creators featured in the TikTok campaign include DJ Steve Aoki, Nick & Sienna, Petunia Twins, chrissycanthearyou, Granny Coy Bundy, iambrattyb, Cindy Chen Designs and The McFarlands.

For the campaign, TikTok enlisted New York-based ad agency Known for the creative and brand strategy and Zenith for media buying.

According to Tran, the ad push is a “follow up” to the company’s recently announced TikTok Creator Fund. That’s initially seeded with $200 million in grants for the first year and is pegged to grow to $1 billion in three years in the U.S., according to TikTok — although what happens if TikTok is sold is anyone’s guess. Before joining TikTok in April 2020, Tran worked at Hulu as VP, brand and culture marketing.

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