Paid Social Blog Series: Unconventional, Thumb-Stopping Ads on TikTok

TikTok has become a powerhouse for marketers aiming to tap into a highly engaged and dynamic audience, making it an essential platform for creating compelling video content that can capture attention in seconds. With its fast-paced and endlessly scrolling ‘For You’ page, standing out in the sea of content requires creativity and an understanding of what makes viewers stop and watch. 

As an avid TikTok user myself, I can attest to the addictive nature of swiping through video after video, seeking entertainment, inspiration, or just a quick laugh. But amidst this rapid content consumption, only a few ads manage to make me pause and take notice.

Capturing a user’s attention on TikTok is no small feat, given the sheer volume of content being consumed every single minute. In this blog post, I will dive into five TikTok ads that made me stop in my tracks and analyze the key elements that made them so engaging and effective.

Ad #1: United Airlines

Super Bowl commercials are known for pushing the boundaries of creativity, and United Airlines’ campaign was no exception. This campaign was highly targeted, featuring different videos for different teams per geographic location. For the TikTok ad I saw in particular, United Airlines tapped into the passion of Chicago sports enthusiasts, resonating deeply with their yearning to see their teams in the Super Bowl. From the start of the ad, “Hey, Chicago,” to the last, “No fees to change your flight. Ever.,” the ad’s emotional pull was further magnified by its clever message: the promise of hassle-free travel to support your favorite team next season.

What made this TikTok ad especially striking was the strategic use of celebrity endorsement. Kyle Chandler, celebrated for his role as a football coach in “Friday Night Lights,” lends an authentic and inspirational touch to the story being told. In doing so, United Airlines didn’t just advertise a service; they evoked a feeling, crafting an ad that was as memorable and effective. 

Ad #2: Dove 

This Dove ad discusses the trending topic of young children exploring beauty products designed for mature skin. With its impactful visuals of young girls paired with text overlays that encourage embracing youth instead of worrying about anti-aging products, the ad makes a bold statement. Dove set itself apart by initiating a conversation many beauty brands are shying away from, positioning itself as a thought leader in promoting age-appropriate beauty standards.

More than selling a product, Dove’s TikTok ad campaign ignites an essential conversation, challenging viewers to rethink and discuss the appropriateness of beauty products for young children. The ad’s strength lies in its ability to provoke thought and stimulate discussion – which is refreshing for an app where many brands are pushing for sales. 

Ad #3: Visit Savannah

The Visit Savannah travel guide ad on TikTok stands out as an effective marketing piece for several reasons, skillfully leveraging the social platform’s unique strengths to capture the audience’s attention and inspire travel. The ad adopts a trendy TikTok list-inspired format. This approach, combined with trending audio, ensures the ad feels current and engaging, tapping into the platform’s culture and user behavior patterns.

The natural and organic feel of the video significantly contributes to its appeal. In today’s digital age, where audiences are constantly bombarded with polished and highly produced content, the authenticity of this TikTok ad breathes fresh air into the viewers’ feeds. Its authentic feel, combined with eye-catching visuals and a user-centric perspective, makes it a powerful tool in promoting Savannah as a must-visit location, driving both engagement and tourism interest.

Ad #4: Mr. Clean

The Mr. Clean TikTok ad is a great example of how to engage with the platform’s audience effectively, capitalizing on humor and brand persona to leave a lasting impression. The ad is comedic and eye-catching. Bringing the traditionally animated character of Mr. Clean to life in a live-action setting plays into the nostalgic connection many have with the character. The ad’s cheeky portrayal of Mr. Clean admiring his achievements on the wall is a smart play on the brand’s long-standing reputation. This self-referential humor helps to reinforce the brand’s identity.

Interestingly, the TikTok ad’s effectiveness is heightened by its bold use of visuals alone. This choice to omit a talk track and selling points is daring, yet it speaks volumes about the brand’s confidence. It suggests that Mr. Clean’s reputation is so strong and well-established that it needs no verbal explanation. This approach relies heavily on the audience’s existing familiarity and trust in the brand. Without overtly selling, Mr. Clean reinforces its position as a leader in the cleaning product industry. The simple narrative of this video reminds viewers of the brand’s status, ensuring that it stays at the top of consumers’ minds when they think about cleaning products.

Ad #5: Spanx

This Spanx ad uses a trendy TikTok format, which centers on trying on different products and directly taps into the popular content style that resonates with TikTok users. It mirrors the type of content that users typically consume and enjoy on the platform. 

Size inclusivity is a significant element that contributes to the ad’s effectiveness. By showcasing the products on real people of various sizes, Spanx not only demonstrates the versatility and range of its collection but also promotes a positive message of body inclusivity. The TikTok ad maintains a good balance of selling points and branding. The use of text overlay aids in communicating key information about the products, and the quick progression through different fits and styles within the collection effectively keeps attention.

Through the lens of the five ads shown above, we’ve seen how brands can leverage TikTok’s unique vibe to create ads that are not just viewed but experienced. They prove that on TikTok, the most effective ads are those that blend entertainment and the community seamlessly, leaving viewers delighted, intrigued, and ready to engage.

For more from our paid social blog series, catch up on our previous posts, 5 Thumb-Stopping Pinterest Ads That Will Grab Your Attention, Unconventional, Thumb-Stopping Ads on Snapchat, and 5 Thumb-Stopping Reddit Ads That Will Grab Your Attention.

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