Year on TikTok: Celebrating the brands that brought creativity and culture in 2021
TikTok is today revealing its 'Year on TikTok 2021', a collection of the most creative UK brand activations that helped define TikTok in 2021.
From social purpose-driven campaigns and companies selling out products, to small businesses finding new customers on the platform, the 'Year on TikTok 2021' list celebrates the brands that struck a chord with our community this year and achieved incredible results in the process.
Commenting on the list, Kris Boger, General Manager, Global Business Solutions, UK at TikTok, said: "Looking back at what has been another exceptional year in marketing, what strikes me is the sheer diversity of brands showing up on TikTok, spanning all sizes and sectors, and the creativity they are bringing to the platform and community.
"With TikTok, there’s an opportunity to be at the epicentre of culture – somewhere all marketers strive to be - and each of these brands has grasped that in their own unique ways.
"We're only just beginning to scratch the surface of TikTok's potential to help brands unleash their creativity, reach new audiences and monetise. I can't wait to see the amazing ways they'll continue connecting with our community in 2022."
Globally, more than one billion people a month turn to TikTok to be entertained, with research showing that 78% of people feel more positive after watching TikTok content*. Brands have a big part to play in delivering this entertainment as they connect with the community, embrace trends and unlock opportunities to grow their business.
The end of the year is the perfect time to look back on the stand out - and sold out - moments of 2021.
1. Products the community sold out this year
People are increasingly using TikTok to discover new products, with hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt (6.8 billion views) - where people share their best TikTok-inspired purchases - helping to clear shelves across the UK. These are the products that had everyone talking and shopping this year.
Little Moons (@littlemoonsmochi) became one of the country's most coveted treats after the TikTok community went crazy for its mochi ice cream bites. Having raised mass awareness and built excitement around its product on the platform organically, Little Moons capitalised on its success by using TikTok's ad formats to create new connections with people. For example, they used One Day Max, which shows up within the For You feed, to let people know that they can buy the sought-after dessert in their local Tesco supermarket. In February 2021, Little Moons' sales were up a staggering 1,300% in Tesco vs. the same period in December, showing the true impact of going viral on TikTok.
#FetaPasta (1.1 billion views) - a simple yet inventive pasta dish - similarly took TikTok by storm in 2021, triggering a massive spike in sales of feta cheese across the UK. In response, supermarket Asda saw an opportunity to jump on the trend's popularity. They introduced a special Baked Feta Pasta bundle containing all the ingredients, which made it easy for people wanting to try out the recipe at home. This was a perfect example of why grocers do not need to sit back and watch trends unfold; they can be part of them and use them to help drive sales.
From food to beauty, ASOS (@asos) saw incredible results following its Halloween campaign, #ASOSAlterEgo. Aimed at promoting the brand's Face & Body offering, ASOS invited the TikTok community to showcase their 'alter ego' through spooky make-up looks. The campaign leveraged a whole host of our ad formats and solutions, from a Branded Hashtag Challenge - which involves creating video and encouraging people to share content under a sponsored hashtag - to bespoke music and enlisting established Creators like @jonysios and @challxn. #ASOSAlterEgo achieved over 839 million video views in the UK alone, with 283,000 Creators taking part.
2. Inspired by the TikTok Community
By embracing viral moments, these companies tapped into the TikTok community's organic conversations surrounding their brands and products.
Enterprise technology giant Sage (@sageuki) arrived on TikTok in style this year with #BOSSIT2021, the first B2B campaign in the UK to hero entrepreneurs through a bespoke Branded Hashtag Challenge on the platform. Taking note of TikTok's growing small business community, the campaign spoke directly to this audience by encouraging them to creatively express how they were 'bossing it' in 2021, despite testing times. #BOSSIT2021 hit the mark, attracting 8.2 billion views, while several of TikTok's most popular small business Creators also got involved, including illustrator @evamalleyart and hand-poured candle-maker @ivyandtwine.
The TikTok community celebrates beauty in all its diverse and unique forms - something cosmetics powerhouse M·A·C (@maccosmetics) put into action with its #LoveMeMode campaign. To mark the launch of new product Love Me Liquid Lipcolour, M·A·C UK & Ireland partnered with TikTok and Spotify on an industry-first multi-media activation which had self-love at its core. With the help of Creative Lab - TikTok's in-house creative team - the brand created a campaign inviting the community to express their true individuality by stating affirmations of self-love through the lens of an Augmented Reality Branded Effect showing off four different lipcolour shades. Alongside this, people were able to click through M·A·C videos within their feed and be taken to Spotify to listen to specially-curated empowering playlists.
3. Campaigns that inspired co-creation within the community
Every TikTok is made better by the community riffing on each other's another's ideas, using our editing tools and special effects to reinvent, remix, and reinterpret trends in new ways. For brands, TikTok gives them an opportunity to inspire people to co-create alongside them, producing endlessly entertaining content.
Football may not have come home this year, but sports fashion retailer JD (@jdofficial) certainly captured the spirit of EURO 2020 with #JDPassItOn, which has since racked up 6 billion views. The challenge invited people to share their skills and passion for the beautiful game to the sound of new track ‘2Gether Now’, a remixed version of The Farm’s 1990 classic and England’s EURO 2004 anthem 'All Together Now'. Sports and football Creators such as Pele Newell (@pelenewell), Ben Black (@benblackfootball), and Andrew Henderson (@iamandrewhenderson) all joined in the challenge alongside the TikTok community, producing everything from dribbling and goal celebrations, to football-inspired make-up and dances. Developed in partnership with Creative Lab, JD also launched the UK’s first augmented reality (AR) shoe try-on of Nike trainers through TikTok later on in 2021.
Another co-creation masterclass came from fashion retailer New Look (@newlook), who launched its new collaboration with singer Anne-Marie with the help of TikTok. The brand ran a campaign encouraging the community to share #ThatNewLookFeeling, which reached over 3.3 billion views of the hashtag and over 258,000 creations around the world.
It is not just retail brands that have inspired co-creation in 2021, but household names across entertainment and technology too. For its #WhatShouldIWatch campaign, Sky Q partnered with well-known Creator Sam Lewis (@EmileSam) to showcase the depth of content and tech available to people on their Sky Q device at home. Produced in collaboration with TikTok's expert Creator Solutions team, the campaign used the famous TikTok ‘Text to Speech’ feature to ask the key question ‘What should I watch?’ before cutting to hilarious clips of Sam taking centre stage in several leading acting roles from shows available on Sky Q, including Star Wars and The Walking Dead. The campaign led to an impressive 15,000 new followers for Sky's TikTok account (@SkyTV).
Alongside this, Microsoft's (@microsoftuk) #StartUpShowUp campaign for the new Windows 11 launch built a connection with the TikTok community by challenging them to start the day by celebrating their own creativity and talents, as well as sharing the joy in other people's. The campaign was backed by a custom soundtrack, a quirky mashup of the new Windows 11 sounds, and an impressive line-up of Creators, from ice skaters and dancers, to swimmers and make-up artists including Laurie Elle (@Laurieelle), Vanessa Bauer (@vanessabauer_skates) and Michael and Matthew Gardiner (@gardinerbrothers).
4. Mission-driven campaigns
By putting their purpose at the centre of marketing, we have seen brands resonate with the TikTok community like never before. These campaigns sparked positive conversations on our platform.
Earlier this year, Co-op (@coopuk) became the first UK grocer to launch a TikTok Branded Hashtag Challenge with #CleanitScrunchitCoopit. The environmentally-conscious TikTok community embraced the challenge, with influential Creators like Nikki Lilly (@nikkililly) and Tom Malone (@tommalone_jr) demonstrating how easy it is to collect and recycle soft plastics at home. It came after the retailer revealed the roll-out of Europe’s most extensive in-store recycling scheme for soft plastic, plastic bags and product wrapping. The #CleanitScrunchitCoopit challenge has since received a huge 4.7 billion views, with its popularity a testament both to the TikTok community's commitment to doing their bit for the environment, and Co-op's effectiveness in communicating its purpose.
With sustainability in the spotlight around COP26 last month, accounting software firm
Intuit QuickBooks (@quickbooks) championed the race to net zero by encouraging environmentally-conscious Creators and sustainable small business-owners to share their stories. As part of this, each Creator showcased how they have reduced their business' carbon footprint and how others can make more eco-friendly choices going into 2022. The campaign used TikTok's new Spark Ads format - which enables brands to amplify organic videos and target relevant audiences - drove almost 17 million video views in the UK and strong engagement with the Creators' followers.
As the shift towards low-emission transport accelerates, car manufacturing giant Peugeot teamed up with TikTok for a new campaign aimed at debunking myths surrounding electric vehicles. The campaign features a diverse range of Creators, who drive far and wide in the new Peugeot fully electric e-208 and e-2008 to show just how far an electric vehicle can take them. It also sees entrepreneur and edutainer Max Klymenko (@maxklymenko), travel lover Lotte Boo (@lotteeboo3) and dad Creator Rubber Hobo (@rubberhobo) tackling common misconceptions about how long it takes to charge electric cars. With the 'Where can a full charge take you?' campaign, Peugeot also become the first automotive manufacturer to run TikTok's Spark Ads solution in the UK.
From cars to coffee, the iconic coffee brand Nespresso (@nespresso) invited the TikTok community to get creative on the sustainability-focused theme “Doing is everything”, and showcase actions having a positive impact in the world with #NespressoTalents. To extend the reach of the campaign, Nespresso also worked with TikTok Creators including photographer and creative director Mike Queyen (@QMike), London-based photographer @thevisuallife, photographer and videographer @kymagination, and singer-songwriter and film director Onyi Moss (@mossonyi). #NespressoTalents has received over 4.8 billion views on TikTok to-date.
5. Brands that think like Creators
By embracing TikTok's culture, these brands and businesses are engaging with their audiences in completely new ways. They've learned to speak the TikTok community's language, and it's paying off.
Hotel brand Hilton approached its arrival on TikTok in the UK with a classic TikTok-first mindset - an outlook which sees brands embracing the platform's authenticity and a willingness to show a different side to their personality. In Hilton's case, the brand worked with five Creators to produce a hero piece, which featured as a TopView and a One Day Max, and encouraged each Creator to make their own TikToks. The result? Creators can be seen tearing up the TikTok script they are given, going off to explore the hotel and recording their own experience. We always tell brands working with Creators to leverage the incredible level of insight and understanding they have about what works for their audiences, and empower them to speak to the community in their own voice. Hilton is a perfect example of putting that into action, whilst delivering over 68.8 million impressions on the platform.
When high street staple Costa Coffee (@costacoffee) wanted to showcase its menu in a more authentic and creative way, TikTok was a natural partner. With this campaign, the renowned coffee brand created 14 ads using TikTok's popular cut-out filter which were cleverly curated based on some of TikTok’s key subcultures including fitness, animals, singing and luxury, making each ad feel native to these individual communities. Once again, our Spark Ads format was used to amplify the videos and target relevant audiences, leading to a 159% increase in followers of Costa Coffee's TikTok account.
It may have been a decade since the original Old Spice (@realoldspiceweswear) 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like' ad first captured people’s attention, but TikTok's reimaged version of the classic put a unique spin on one of the most talked about ads of all time. Developed with Creative Lab, the TikTok iteration saw much-loved Creators Munya Chawawa (@munyachawawa) and Niall Gray (@niall.gray) add a local twist to the ad by incorporating UK references, culture and distinctly British humour, all while bringing the Old Spice brand bang up to date for the TikTok generation. The #OldSpiceCaptain hashtag now has over 31.3 million views.
Finally on brands thinking like Creators, internationally-renowned talent agency Storm Management (@stormmodels) and global cosmetics brand Rimmel London (@rimmellondon) teamed up with TikTok for a UK-wide campaign to find the next undiscovered fashion and beauty Creator with #DiscoverMe. The campaign invited Creators to participate in a range of Hashtag Challenges, showing their unique talent and creative flair against different lifestyle themes with an exclusive Rimmel London Branded Effect. Entrants were in with a chance to join Storm Management’s digital division ‘Storm Vision’, while also securing a 12-month contract to work with Rimmel London. The #DiscoverMe hashtag has received 457.2 million views so far.
6. LIVE streams the community couldn't miss
It doesn't get more authentic than a livestream, and these brands mastered the art of live entertainment and engagement on TikTok LIVE this year.
The #BeBold campaign from sports fashion retailer ellesse (@ellesseofficial) saw the label team up with TikTok for the first shoppable livestream concert hosted by a fashion brand with a music artist. The TikTok live concert was hosted by Swedish singer-songwriter and ellesse's new brand ambassador Zara Larsson. To drum up excitement in the lead up to the concert, the campaign was complemented by a TopView Ad and Branded Hashtag Challenge #BeBold. Those tuning in during the concert saw clickable items of clothing appear on screen based on what Zara was wearing, which could then be explored and even purchased directly within the TikTok app. The results of ellesse's unique campaign speak for themselves, with #BeBold receiving 3.9 billion views on TikTok to date.
To celebrate the perks and quirks of home life, Very (@veryuk) brought the nation together earlier this year for a giant singalong to “Our House”, the timeless 80s hit by Madness. Households all over the country joined in to celebrate the ways in which the nation’s relationship with home was transformed by lockdowns. Very's objective on TikTok was to raise awareness for its new #OurHouse2021 campaign, combining a wide reach with mass engagement. The brand used our Branded Hashtag Challenge format - which involves creating a video with a sponsored hashtag and encouraging people to share content under the same hashtag - and branded effects like the pink Very-themed video frame to boost engagement with our community. As part of the campaign, Very worked with over 30 British Creators including celebrities like Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The result was over 1.7 million plus videos created by more than 1 million Creators. It doesn't get more authentic than a livestream, and these brands mastered the art of live entertainment and engagement on TikTok LIVE this year.
7. Small business success stories
From sharing their innovative new products to inspiring testaments of what it takes to be a businessowner, here are a few of small business stories and products our community loved this year.
Lucy Hitchcock was inspired to start her insulated wine bottle business Partner in Wine (@Partnerinwineuk) after a socially-distanced drink with her best friend in the park exposed a gap in the market. Since starting her business, she has consistently posted creative, real-life content on TikTok, leading to a viral videowhich racked up half a million views in 12 hours and saw an item selling every two minutes. Sales increased by 1,700 percent in a single day, which has turned into sustained five-digit revenue every month. Soon after, Partner in Wine confirmed the iconic retailer Selfridges as its very first stockist and recently made its debut in Oliver Bonas.
Another lockdown success story is Browniegod (@Browniegod), a London-based brownie brand founded by a brother and sister duo Kanita and Xhenis Ramaxhiku. When the pandemic hit, the pair were forced to stop selling at their regular market stall and decided to put more effort into engaging with people on TikTok. After an early video featuring a tub of Nutella went viral on the platform, sales started to grow fast and they quickly outgrew their existing kitchen. A few months later, Kanita and Xhenis had invested in a commercial kitchen, large-scale equipment and a full team of staff (including their mum after she was made redundant). Since turning their attention to TikTok, monthly sales have grown by five digits and Browniegod has gained roughly 10,000 new customers in the UK this year alone.
Liverpool-based eyelash experts Tatti Lashes (@_tattilashes) have an eye for what works on TikTok. Founded by two former technicians who spotted an opportunity in the market, the brand's distinctively pink and fun content has made it a favourite among TikTok Creators and celebrities alike. To make their mark on TikTok, Tatti Lashes produced a series of sassy In-Feed Ads that drove directly to their products – encouraging people to explore them in more detail before easily adding items to their cart. Thanks to the brand's content hitting the right notes with its audience, Tatti Lashes has reached 36.8k followers and counting.
*Marketing Science EU Understanding Authenticity, Happiness and Joy research 2021 conducted by Flamingo Group