Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

TikTok, once assumed to be a playground solely for GenZ, began attracting users all ages during the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than one billion monthly active users worldwide, it became one of the most popular downloads in 2020. Its short-form videos captured the hearts of young and old alike.

In the U.S., 60 percent of TikTok’s users are between 16 to 24 years of age. Another 26 percent are 25 to 44 years old. The remaining 14 percent were 45 and older. Collectively, these different demographic groups are a large market. It’s estimated that in the U.S. alone, TikTok’s revenue for 2020 was a half-billion dollars. Some brands were quick to recognize the power of TikTok and did extremely well, pandemic notwithstanding. It’s a necessity for all who work in digital PR to understand TikTok these days.

Simmons, the 150-year-old mattress company, launched the #Snoozzzapalooza challenge in the middle of the cornavirus pandemic. The firm’s intent was to showcase its new, playful and colorful branding. Instead of using one or two popular influencers, Simmons gathered a talented array of folks, ranging from athletes and celebrities to dancers and comedians. Each transferred their home venues into individual festivals.

The six-day campaign attracted more than 1.1 million participants who posted over two million challenge-related videos on TikTok. These generated 6.3 million views. Brand awareness was heightened during and afterwards. Visitor traffic to increased 107 percent for several weeks after.

Ocean Spray, on the other hand, accidentally skated to popularity on TikTok. On his way to work at an Idaho potato warehouse where he had been employed for the past 20 years, Nathan “Doggface” Apodaca’s truck broke down. It had already logged 320,000 miles. But since he was only two miles from work and had a skateboard in the back and a bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice up front, Apodaca decided to skateboard into work rather than hitchhike.

As Apodaca skated to work, he videotaped himself lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit song, “Dreams,” while drinking the juice. He then decided to post his adventure on TikTok while on break. Prior to this, he had posted other things on TikTok for the past two years. What followed was what storybooks are made of.

Ocean Spray saw sales suddenly rise for some unexplained reason and, only after investigating did the company learn of Apodaca’s post. By then, not only had TikTok users globally been buying up Ocean Spray, but it also recreated Apodaca’s video and posted their own versions on TikTok. Views to #oceanspray jumped to 27.5 million and the company’s stock price also doubled.

Ocean Spray quickly seized the opportunity to partner with Apodaca. On hearing his story, one thing it did immediately was to buy him a new truck and stock it full with their Ocean Spray juice. Together, they started a new hashtag challenge on TikTok called #DoggfaceDanceVibes that aired during the last Super Bowl. Other campaigns are currently in the works. Fleetwood Mac also experienced a revival of “Dreams” from Apodaca’s September 25th video. Sales of the song tripled and streams more than doubled.

Whether planned or happenstance, TikTok is a powerful platform that can deliver success to brands. The key is in brands knowing their target audience and tailoring a video that’s not only timely but also popular with them. The story of Apodaca and Ocean Spray proves that influencers aren’t the only way to sway consumer feelings.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of America’s leading PR firms.