The TikTok community continues to define the intersection of culture and commerce. This year, we baked feta pasta, we cheered for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, we danced to Berries & Cream, we had bones days, and we had a few no bones days as well. Throughout these moments, we watched brands come together with our community of over 1 billion to entertain and inspire each other and, together, create culture.
Our community of creators, artists, and brands are empowered to bring their authentic selves to TikTok. In fact, our recent Culture Driver study with Flamingo found that 56% of users and 67% of creators feel closer to brands they see on TikTok - particularly when they publish human, unpolished content. True to our motto of "Don't Make Ads, Make TikToks", our community has taught the industry that when advertising and marketing is loved like entertainment, brands will see incredible results both on and off the platform. Together we're reminiscing on brands' stand out - and sold out - moments as they continue to lean into TikTok to drive both business and cultural impact. While this list could have been much longer, these US brand moments were just a few of the many that touched the community's hearts (and shopping lists) in 2021.
- Community Commerce that Sparked a Movement
The impact of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, the hashtag with 7B+ views and the movement of clearing shelves across the nation, extends far beyond the platform - to bookstores, coffee shops, TV commercials, and everywhere else. When products became beloved by the community overnight, brands continued to show up to amplify these same #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt moments that had the entire community talking and shopping this year.Peter Thomas Roth: In August, Trinidad Sandoval - a previously unheard of creator - decided to showcase her daily routine in a TikTok using Peter Thomas Roth's Instant FIRMx eye cream. Within 24 hours of her video going viral (which now has nearly 34M views!) the eye cream swept off the shelves and sold out online across several major beauty retailers. Peter Thomas Roth estimated that the amount that sold within the first week of this TikTok was equivalent to what would normally sell in six months.Clinique: First introduced in 1971, Clinique's "Almost Lipstick" in the shade Black Honey had a major comeback this September on TikTok. Conversations on the shade's universally flattering color surfaced organically, leading customers to flock to stores like Sephora, Ulta, and Clinique where the product flew off the shelves for several weeks. Currently, the hashtag #blackhoney has over 28.2M+ views.Bissell: Despite being on the market since 1997, Bissell's Little Green Machine carpet cleaning device found explosive fame earlier this year thanks to the #CleanTok community. Not only is the product beloved with the hashtag #littlegreenmachine sporting over 69M+ views, but has more than doubled in sales just this year.
- Products Inspired by the TikTok Community
When the community asks, brands listen. The TikTok community is a never-ending source of inspiration and creativity, and brands are investing more and more resources into adopting an "always engaged" TikTok strategy to ensure they never miss a beat. By leaning into viral moments, these brands launched entirely new products based off of the TikTok community's organic conversations surrounding their brands and items.GAP: GAP's brown hoodie went viral organically with #gaphoodie reaching 8.2m+ views and counting thanks to a post by creator Barbara Kristofferson. Although the hoodie was vintage, the TikTok community created such viral demand that GAP brought it back in stock after ending production over a decade ago. More recently, TikTok and GAP partnered for the “Gap Hoodie Color Comeback”, a campaign that decided GAP's next hoodie release by engaging the TikTok community to vote for the next product color - with hot pink being voted as the ultimate winner. The product is now listed online as the "TikTok Super Pink Neon Logo Hoodie".eos: In February, TikTok creator Carly Joy went viral for sharing an authentic and honest review of eos’ shave cream. The video went viral, causing eos to see 25x their typical order growth and 450x growth in website visits for the shave cream. At Target, eos became the #1 shave brand across men and women the week of Carly’s TikTok, and held that position for several weeks until it completely sold out at Target. In response, eos launched a limited-edition product called “'Bless Your F#@%ing Cooch” as a nod to Carly's colorful verbiage in her original review.Isle of Paradise: Having first gone viral in March 2020, Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Water went viral for a second time in February 2021 - but this time, creators were pouring the hydrating tanning Waters into continuous mister bottles to create an at-home spray tan experience. Foamy3 was the first to share this game-changing self-tanning hack with the TikTok community. The trend caught on so quickly, it caused the Self-Tanning Water Refills to sell out at Sephora within 24hrs. Immediately picking up on the trend, Isle of Paradise developed their own branded Pro Glow Spray Tan Kit, launching it within 3 months of the first viral video. It’s the brand’s very first crowdsourced product and a successful one at that, with the Kit already a best-seller at Sephora.
- Campaigns that Inspired Co-Creation within the Community
On TikTok, anyone can be part of a brand campaign. With access to TikTok's suite of endlessly fun in-app tools and advertising solutions like Duet and Branded Effects, it's easier than ever for brands to inspire the community to co-create alongside them. With their interactive co-creation campaigns, these brands had us hungry, well-dressed, and imaginative this year.JIF: For their biggest campaign on TikTok to date, JIF launched an In-Feed advertising campaign and Hashtag Challenge in collaboration with Ludacris called the #JifRapChallenge. The partnership inspired our community to “Duet” Ludacris’ rap challenge with a spoonful of peanut butter in their mouth, making for some creative (and tasty) custom music.Ralph Lauren: As the official outfitter of Team USA, Ralph Lauren partnered with TikTok to build a custom Branded Effect to celebrate the 2020 Olympics. With over 52.6M views, the hashtag #RLxTeamUSA encouraged the community to show their all American outfits and Olympic spirit.Ford: To reveal the launch of the new Ford P758 Pickup, TikTok and Ford partnered to create a custom, first-of-its-kind augmented reality Branded Effect Truck as part of Ford's TikTok campaign. The #FordMaverick campaign challenged the TikTok community to get creative in imagining where they would put their Ford Maverick. The #FordMaverick hashtag reached 10.7B+ video views and garnered 17k+ video creations in less than a month.
- Brands Responding to Trending Conversations
TikTok is home to some of the funniest, most heart-warming, and culturally relevant conversations on the internet, and brands have found their voice among the chatter. Here are some examples of brands not only jumping into conversations, but starting ones that brought joy and laughter to the TikTok community.NFL: It all started when Emily Zugay, a 24 year-old with a degree in graphic design, took to TikTok to sarcastically recreate popular brands' logos. After sending a call to action to brands on the platform, over 60+ brands including McDonald's, The Washington Post, and more began to flock to her comment section to ask for a logo design of their own. The NFL was early to get in on the fun, leading Emily to recreate the NFL's logo. The NFL's official account responded to Emily's video with a redesign of their own (which soon became Emily's TikTok profile photo).Walmart vs. Target: After a Target employee Jaden Delham jokingly posted a TikTok about how Target is holding one of Walmart's shopping carts hostage, Walmart swiftly responded with a clip of the quintessential Walmart vest resting on Target's signature red ball with the caption "return the cart and we’ll return the ball." Soon after, Target's official account responded by assembling their partner brands (Starbucks, Ulta Beauty, Disney, and Apple) as a team ready for action. With brands from all over engaging in the comment section, the Walmart versus Target debacle had the community laughing for days. The official @walmart even experienced an increase of 13x daily average account followers after their response video had been posted. For Target, combined with other ad campaigns designed to drive engagement, the viral exchange helped them exceed 1M+ followers that week.Applebee's: When country star Walker Hayes’ song “Fancy Like” gained popularity on TikTok, a lyric mentioning Applebee’s Oreo shake stood out in particular. The community quickly coined choreography behind the song, bolstering Applebee’s long lost menu item all over TikTok. Now, this song - and the shake - are the driving Applebee’s marketing efforts. The brand brought back the shake, and partnered with Walker Hayes to amplify their marketing campaign with his song at the center. Applebee's also recently reported to Delish that their sales rose 102 percent last quarter, part of which could be from the song’s popularity.
- Mission Driven Campaigns
Brands bring so much more than just great products to our platform. By sharing their company ethos, ideals, and purpose, we've seen brands use TikTok as a tool to establish brand affinity through real, authentic connections with consumers. From self-love and beyond, these campaigns redefined what it means to be a purpose-driven marketer and inspired the community by sparking positive conversations on our platform.Dove: The Dove Self-Esteem Project and TikTok partnered to launch a #NoDigitalDistortion campaign aimed at encouraging authenticity and body positivity on social media. The challenge is soundtracked to the song "I'm Not Pretty" by Jessia, a self-love song popularized on TikTok earlier this year, and spreads the much-needed message that we're perfect just the way we are – no filters or photo editing needed.”P&G: With over 12B views, Procter & Gamble launched this heartwarming campaign to encourage the TikTok community to share their stories of who inspires them to #LeadWithLove. From Nastia Lukin to David Boudia, this Hashtag Challenge and Branded Effect reminded us to be selfless and compassionate to those around us.Burt's Bees: Burt's Bees' line of Truly Glowing products don't seek to make you look different or "better," but rather amplify who you already are and make you glow from the inside out. This #TrulyGlowingSelfieLove Hashtag Challenge spread the love for natural, conscious beauty products that make us feel great in our own skin. This challenge inspired the community to share what they love about themselves and others, alongside a custom track by Ludovico Einaudi as the ultimate anthem of self empowerment.
- Brands that Act Like Creators
From tapping into trending sounds and memes to teaching our community new things, brands have taught the industry that creating entertaining content is the key to capturing the TikTok community's attention. By simply taking the time to understand and embrace the creator mindset, we've seen brands grow loyal fanbases and generate unprecedented engagement. Here are the brands whose fresh and endlessly creative content has the community constantly refreshing their For You Feeds.Disney Parks: Disney Parks brings the "The Happiest Place On Earth" to TikTok by taking the community on behind-the-scenes tours with cast members, sharing tidbits of Disney’s fascinating history, showcasing the parks’ latest events and exhibitions, and much more.Benny the Bull: By jumping on the latest trends, teaming up with top creators, and even showing up in users' comments sections, the Chicago Bulls mascot has become a beloved staple of the TikTok community. With over 4.7M followers, Benny has amassed a global following by staying true to his character while keeping his pulse on what's happening within the community.Fenty Beauty: Fenty Beauty consistently listens to the community and joins in on organic conversations that are happening about their brand. Using native features including Text-to-Speech and reply to comment with video, the brand has developed an on-platform persona that's playful and real.
- LIVE Streams the Community Couldn't Miss
POV: you're right there with your favorite brand. TikTok LIVE offers a unique opportunity to connect with the community in real-time, and brands have found tremendous success by using this feature to engage their audiences to comment, ask questions, and connect with the people (or animals) behind the brand on a whole other level. Whether they're once in a while or regularly scheduled programming, these are the LIVEs that just couldn't be missed this year.Aquarium of the Pacific: Each week the Aquarium of the Pacific goes LIVE on TikTok to provide an up-close look at their vibrant community of sea animals. From sharing fun facts about Groot the giant Pacific octopus to hanging out in the sea lion habitat, Aquarium of the Pacific curates behind-the-scenes experiences for TikTok that are educational and fun.Netflix: To promote the release of The Kissing Booth 3, star Joel Courtney hosted a LIVE stream on Netflix’s official TikTok account where he watched the trailer for the first time and reacted to messages he received from other cast members. By capturing candid, unscripted moments and reflections from one of the film's stars, Netflix reimagined the typical trailer drop and created a live experience that felt intimate and real.Travel Channel: To celebrate Ghostober this year, the Travel Channel & streaming service discovery+ partnered with ghost detective Ryan Bergara to host a LIVE paranormal investigation at the notoriously eerie Winchester Mystery House. The community was invited to join the house exploration alongside Ryan in real time, posting questions and theories in the comments, creating an engaging LIVE experience.
- Small Businesses that Inspired the Community
Small businesses persevered through unique challenges this year, all the while remaining the souls of our local communities. We're always looking for new ways to help them share their inspiring stories with the TikTok community, and are humbled that our platform helps give them the global visibility (and sales) they deserve. From sharing family recipes to inspiring testaments of what it takes to be a businessowner, here are just some of the many small businesses that touched the community's hearts this year.Izola's Country Cooking: Located in Hinesville, Georgia, Izola's Country Cooking is a Southern comfort food restaurant owned by Glenn and Lori Poole. After seeing their business decline sharply in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns, Lori and Glenn tried out TikTok as a way to reach new customers in their area. The strategy worked. By sharing their authentic story and videos of their mouth-watering food, they've attracted customers near and far and tripled their sales in the process.Sider's Woodcrafting: In 2020, Bruce Graybill, owner of Sider's Woodcrafting, thought he had lost everything. His workshop and products were destroyed in a fire, and COVID-19 lockdowns canceled the craft fairs where he sold his handmade cutting and charcuterie boards. He shared this story with TikTok, and quickly heard from small businesses and customers all over the country who offered to help. With the support of his growing community, Bruce continued to document his work and the shop’s restoration. Today, Bruce has over 150,000 followers, and he says TiKTok saved his business and is directly responsible for 90% of his sales. He also said that this year alone, TikTok drove more than $30,000 in sales for his business.Candy Me Up: Born and raised in the candy industry by her father, Nema Causey, owner of Candy Me Up in La Mesa, California, was close to shutting down her newly-opened business during the pandemic. She turned to TikTok to modernize her marketing strategy and kickstarted her content by piggybacking onto the “Jelly Fruit challenge,” a viral trend with over 3M views that requires one key ingredient: candy. By posting consistent, on-trend, fun TikToks of the candy shop and her life as a business owner, Nema has raked in nearly 1M followers of candy fanatics. This has helped her to pivot to e-commerce, a promising growth area for her due to the 1,000 orders a day she gets from TikTok.