Ocean Spray a brand famous for its cranberry juice has been around for 92 years. In all that time its done plenty of advertising. What do you think has been its most successful campaign in terms of reach?
This one that you might have seen on TV that cost millions to produce and distribute?
or this one that you may have seen more recently?
Nope. Its a viral video of a person riding a skateboard, listening to Fleetwood Mac, Drinking Ocean Spray.
This video got over 88 million views on TikTok and 13 million views on YouTube, That’s just on the original creator’s channels. This extremely low budget viral video outpaced the previous campaign’s and saw over 3 million new consumer households turn to Ocean Spray for flavor and health benefits.
On his way to work, Nathan Apodaca (the Ocean Spray guy), whose car had broken down, hopped on a skateboard, grabbed a bottle of Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, and skated his way to internet fame. On a whim, he caught himself sipping his juice while lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Without giving it much thought, he uploaded the video to his TikTok account, and by the time he arrived at work, the video had garnered millions of views.
Whatever the secret ingredients are for viral content, Apodaca’s TikTok video had the sauce. It caught on like wildfire, spawning thousands of imitators. Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams hit number 1 on iTunes causing Fleetwood Mac’s own Mick Fleetwood to post his own version (he created a TikTok just to post it).
and then Jimmy Fallon
even the CEO of Ocean Spray jumped on the bandwagon.
Thousands of smaller creators followed. What Apodaca had accidentally done was create a mini-cultural moment. One that was simple, carefree, and had vibes—and also one that both TikTok and Ocean Spray seized and amplified to great results. So what’s the lesson to be learned for advertisers here?
TikTok Amplified the Moment
This enjoyable and organic moment was captured via TikTok. They searched for a method to capitalise on the enthusiasm surrounding the viral hit they knew they had on their platform and to share some of what makes TikTok unique. However, they had to act quickly because these opportunities might go in a heartbeat.
Normally, you wouldn’t associate “TV ad” with “rapid turnaround time,” yet TikTok adopted that strategy. The advertisement included the original film by Apodaca, as well as imitations and Mick Fleetwood’s interpretation (you can see it here). Because of the short turnaround time, they were able to take advantage of the mini-cultural moment and launch their commercials during major television events like the NBA finals and MLB playoffs.
Culture moves fast. If you blink, you’ll miss itNick Tran, TikTok Head of Global Marketing
In the past, TV advertising involved talking on the phone, sending emails, and coordinating with agencies and media buyers. Now, all you need to do is select your audience, upload your creative to a Connected TV ad platform, and click “launch.”
A few years ago, this short turnaround time wouldn’t be possible. It emphasises the value of advertising technology and services that enable speedy campaign spin-up times. Connected TV makes that possible because it makes going live very simple and is quite similar to initiating a social media advertising campaign (and kudos to TikTok for also bringing the ad live to linear television with similar expediency, which is much more challenging). TikTok was able to enhance a viral moment and turn it into a successful brand awareness campaign by utilising those techniques.
Ocean Spray Seized the Moment (the right way)
In addition to endorsing TikTok’s advertisement (which has increased brand awareness for Ocean Spray more than anything), Ocean Spray leant into the situation by capitalising on the feel-good vibe of the narrative and injecting a little bit of charity into the mix.
Because of his passion for cranberry juice, Nathan Apodaca received a brand-new truck from Ocean Spray to replace the one that broke down and gave rise to this entire tale. It was a brilliant move that not only aided their unlikely brand ambassador but also maintained the news cycle and gave their viral moment a little more longevity.
There is no tested recipe for making content go viral. With varying degrees of success, brands in the digital age have repeatedly attempted to catch that lightning in a bottle. Provocative campaigns that were recently used in an attempt to garner attention and shareability have utterly failed. A forced viral campaign can go horribly wrong.
On the other hand, TikTok and Ocean Spray leveraged an organic moment into profitable advertising. The operative word there is “organic.” They took advantage of something that was already well-liked and entertaining and had a natural fit for their brands rather than forcing it. In TikTok’s case, they used a sense of urgency and the available ad tech tools to amplify the brand celebration moment quickly.