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Nov 11 2021

How Car Brands Can Use TikTok

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If you think of a car advert, your mind probably goes to luscious green scenery with a shiny car winding through remote mountain roads. Or maybe you think of neon city lights and smooth roads? Either way, with a varying combination of these features, you’ve probably covered every car advert out there—maybe with a smiling family thrown in. 

As consumers become more resistant to traditional advertising channels, auto brands need to find a new way to connect to audiences—particularly younger audiences. They need to learn how to be agile, captivating and authentic in order to foster new relationships. How can they do this, you ask? TikTok. 

The State of Auto

Even before the unprecedented arrival of COVID-19, the automotive industry was experiencing huge changes. Now we’ve entered a new—predominantly digital—normal, we can safely say what used to work, won’t work now. TikTok has already presented brands of all sizes and industries with the chance to reach new target audiences, build authentic connections and win the race for consumer attention.

Disruption 1: Car ownership 

Consumer habits have shifted to favour subscriptions. Outright car ownership isn’t a priority for new vehicle owners; many consumers say they value transportation, but are reluctant to own a vehicle. 

Disruption 2: Smart technology

Where car owners will have once bragged about their car’s horsepower, they now brag about its smart technology. Thanks to big-players such as Tesla, the boundaries of the tech available in a vehicle have been blasted through the roof. Car brands need to showcase their vehicles’ technological power to stay competitive. 

Disruption 3: Sustainability

The fact sustainability is shaking up the automotive industry is no surprise. Consumer interest in sustainable vehicles has grown significantly throughout the pandemic, with many only considering owning electric or hybrid vehicles. 

Automotive brands on TikTok

Several automotive brands have already seen success using TikTok’s creative tools and ever-expanding community. So, who are they and how are they succeeding? 

Hyundai

Hyundai partnered with the incredibly popular K-Pop band BTS to create a Branded Hashtag Challenge #ExpectingGen1, supported with a secondary hashtag #Move4Gen1 to promote its carbon neutral initiative. 

@hyundai_worldwide#광고 Join our #Move4Gen1 challenge now! #BTS #CarbonNeutrality #Hyundai #ExpectingGen1♬ I’m On It (Remix) – Hyundai x BTS

Hyundai created multiple TikToks with the band to explain the initiative and also a fun carbon-zero inspired dance, which have both been boosted with TikTok TopView ads. Hyundai reused these videos and captioned them in different languages for key markets in order to reach wider audiences. 

@hyundai_worldwide#광고 Join our #Move4Gen1 challenge now! #BTS #CarbonNeutrality #Hyundai #ExpectingGen1♬ I’m On It (Remix) – Hyundai x BTS

The hashtags combined have reached over 4.7 billion views and counting, and have housed a large amount of global user-generated content of users recreating the dance—with the branded sound (a remix of BTS x IONIQ I’m On It) reaching over 4590 videos. 

Toyota US

While Toyota has a global account, it is yet to make its first TikTok. Instead, Toyota has used influencer marketing to support its position as one of the Olympic sponsors for Team USA. Toyota sponsored Team USA Olympians and Paralympians to show off their skills, including backflips, pull-ups and other impressive physical activities. 

@davidboudia1…2…3…stitch this video if you’ve got what it takes. #ad #ToyotaTryouts #TeamToyota #Olympics @Toyota♬ Team Toyota Going For Gold – Jessica Long

Using the hashtags #ToyotaTryouts and #TeamToyotaTryouts, Toyota used influencers to encourage users to get involved with the Olympic spirit and share their own impressive skills—or therelackof. 

@calvinandhabs#ad #stitch with @davidboudia Armchair Quarterbacks watching the Olympics @toyota #teamtoyotatryouts #olympics♬ original sound – Calvin & Habs

Honda US

Honda’s TikTok strategy has focused on using TikTok creatives as Honda Partners. These partners create engaging content on their own channels that Honda then collects and reposts to its own account. The content has primarily been focused on the Honda Civic and includes back to school tips to pack your car and futuristic-ly edited, but incredibly captivating, content. 

@hondaThe all-new ##HondaCivic Sedan came to play. ##fyp ##honda_civic ##TikTokCars ##CarTok 📷: @theanimatedpoet♬ original sound – Honda

Content created by Honda Partners was posted on their own channels first, and some videos have managed to reach over 9 million views. 

@katyschlemmerA show of hands for the super stylish 2022 Honda Civic 👋🏼🚙 Honda Partner♬ original sound – Katy Schlemmer

Other Honda content includes tips, tricks and hacks for the Honda Pilot. 

BMW UK

BMW UK entered the world of TikTok using TopView and In Feed ads to drive mass awareness on the platform. Using two Team GB athletes, BMW created eye-catching content with the athletes doing BMX and gymnastics tricks around a BMW 1 Series.

 

The campaign pulled in over 27 million impressions and achieved a click-through rate of 16.08%, as well as an ad recall of 10.7%—all without creating an official BMW UK account. 

MINI

MINI has gained a strong following on TikTok as a result of consistent posting, audience engagement and achieving viral content. On every post, MINI engages with its audience by responding to comments in a friendly, but MINI-way. 

@miniReply to @wierdo9345 Did you guess it too? ##MrBean ##Icon ##ClassicMini ##MINI ##MINICooper♬ BATHTIME MAMBO – Dug

MINI maintains its brand essence across its account and makes many of its TikToks in the same location for continuity. The account also shows off MINI’s proud heritage by showing older versions of their cars, including the well loved Mr Bean Mini.

@miniThere was BIG LOVE all around at IAA Mobility. What was your favourite part? 👇 ##MINIBigLovefromMunich ##MINI ##iaamobility♬ BIG LOVE – Sickickmusic

MINI also created a BIG LOVE campaign, composed of 3 TikToks that received over 43.5 million views combined. 

BMW

BMW has experienced incredible growth on TikTok and is the fastest growing car brand on the platform. With a focus on futuristic/cybertech-inspired content that creates engaging videos, it has already amassed over 283K followers on the platform, despite only joining in August. 

@bmwShall we go for a spin? ##TeamBMW ##BMW @falcopunch ##cars♬ bright – Official Sound Studio

BMW has managed to nail a content style that regularly results in a viral status, with its first 7 videos having at least 3 million views each, with the highest reaching over 10.6 million. 

@bmwCan we ##ReImagineToday ? Watch @dannero try to solve a mystical quest at the ##BMWIAA♬ original sound – bmw

The Opportunity on TikTok

It is impossible to deny the opportunities that TikTok presents automotive brands. While promoting vehicles is typically a primary objective, TikTok gives auto brands the chance to humanise themselves and offer transparency and authenticity to new audiences. Auto brands can use the platform to inform TikTok users of important initiatives or partnerships that will be of interest to them and use paid advertising to ensure the content is seen by relevant audiences from the get-go. While not directly promoting vehicle purchase, this strategy will build an emotional relationship with TikTok users that connect with a brand’s values and activities. 

TikTok users want to discover new brands and products—this extends to vehicles. TikTok has revealed that almost half of US-based TikTok users are planning to buy or lease a car in the coming 12 months. Typically, the household members instigating a car purchase or rental are the decision-maker or highly influential within their home. More interestingly, TikTok has also revealed that 74% of car fanatics on TikTok have taken action (including sharing with a friend, reading reviews or visiting a dealership) after seeing automotive ads or content on the platform. This shows that automotive brands have a place on TikTok, and many users are waiting to be guided towards a brand and purchase. 

TikTok presents automotive brands the chance to be agile and connect with their target audiences directly—something that’s imperative in the new digital era. Where car advertising has become stuffy and overused, using TikTok, car brands can position themselves as culturally relevant and worth investing in. 

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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