TikTok calls these brands its biggest culture drivers

Back in February, a TikTok user named Carly Joy posted a one-minute, f-bomb-laced, instructional video on how to shave your vagina. It was also a tribute to eos (evolution of smooth) shave cream, or as Carly called it, “an absolute blessing.” Maybe it was the combination of swearing and hygienic advice. Maybe it was Carly’s delivery, which more than slightly resembles someone who declares the Fat Boys an underrated force in the hip-hop pantheon after a particularly enthusiastic bong rip. Either way, the video quickly hit 17 million views and led to a 25-times boost in orders to eos’s website.

Eos’ chief marketing officer Soyoung Kang saw it happen in real-time and immediately leapt into action. The brand wanted to get in touch with Carly to figure out a way to collaborate, but there was just one problem—as a minor, Carly couldn’t receive messages on the platform from strangers. Eventually eos got her attention on TikTok through a duet of her video (when a video follows along with another video), and within three days, eos had shave cream rolling off the production line featuring Carly’s signature line, “Bless your f#@%ing cooch.”


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♬ original sound – eos

Thanks to efforts like that, eos is one of the brands that’s been named to TikTok’s first-ever Culture Drivers list, 14 brands that the platform sees as doing the best, most engaging, and entertaining work on the platform. In addition to eos, honorees include Aerie, Clinique, Jif, Goldfish, Volkswagen, T-Mobile, Tropicana, Comcast, Koho, Amazon Alexa, Pizza Hut, Dove, and e.l.f. cosmetics. TikTok’s global head of business marketing Sofia Hernandez says that the goal is to celebrate the marketers who really have taken the leap on the platform as bold innovators. “They took chances, and they did it the right way, they trusted themselves, and they trusted us,” says Hernandez. “That’s what culture drivers is, because I think this is the future of CMOs and marketers, the people who see something new, aren’t sure how it can drive their business, but know they need to be there, and be there in a way that is authentic to that platform. We also wanted to create a bit of FOMO for the marketers who haven’t leaned in enough.”

TikTok, which launched in the United States in its current form in the summer of 2018, has quickly become one of the most relevant and influential social platforms, particularly in propelling popular music. It crossed the billion-user mark in September. Crucially for marketers, according to Kantar’s Media Reactions 2021 study, out of any social platform, TikTok is where users most appreciate advertising and are least likely to view ads negatively.

Eos CMO Kang says that the brand started talking to and experimenting with TikTok early on, and back in 2019 was the first brand to partner with Charli D’Amelio. The company, which counts Gen Z and young millennials as its primary audience, launched a major rebrand in September 2019. “It was a more experimental component of our marketing campaign,” says Kang. “But the results were anything but experimental, fringe, or niche. We garnered more than 4 billion views of our campaign in about four weeks.” Since then, Kang says TikTok has been a core staple in its marketing mix, with the brand refreshing its TikTok campaigns every three months.

Pizza Hut is on the list for its #ForYouPizza campaign and partnership with TikTok creator Oneya Johnson, aka AngryReactions, a TikTok challenge encouraging people to share their personalized pizza recipe to win the chance to have their recipe available across the United States on PizzaHut.com. According to Pizza Hut, its site traffic was up by 75% on launch day, and the #ForYouPizza hashtag had more than 7 billion views, and thousands submitted recipes.


#duet with @authenticteecee this was an emotional roller coaster

♬ original sound – AUTHENTICTEECEE

“The partnership with TikTok star Oneya Johnson allowed us to connect with a younger audience in a way that’s tough to duplicate through traditional advertising and media partnerships,” says Pizza Hut CMO Lindsay Morgan. “We know we’ve broken through when we’re hearing from our team members and younger fans about a campaign.”

While the Culture Drivers list features a diverse set of brands, from beauty and fast food to banking, Hernandez says that what they all have in common is their tolerance for risk, their ability to act quickly, and their understanding of the collaborative nature of TikTok content among creators, users, and brands. With the launch of shoppable posts, this will only become more important.

“I talk to CMOs weekly, and most of them are not on TikTok,” Hernandez says. “They read about it, and know what their 13-year-old kid is doing, but they don’t truly know the platform. When you’re in it, you get it, and as a marketer you start to see how your brand might come to life there. These marketers are all in the platform, and they get it. They understand the communities, and they understand what we historically call engagement is very different here.”