Is It Time to Try TikTok?

The social media platform TikTok, known for its very short-form mobile videos, particularly in the areas of comedy, talent showcases, and lip syncing, has quickly become popular among young consumers, especially teens. The app, introduced in China in 2012 and around the world in 2017, ranked as the seventh most downloaded app of the decade 2010 through 2019, according to App Annie. It ranked number four in calendar year 2019.

Not surprisingly, marketers have started experimenting with the platform as a means of distributing content, as well as for marketing initiatives such as product placement, brand ambassadorships, and endorsements. More recently, the platform is starting to emerge as a source of celebrity-licensing programs:

• Sisters Ashley and Emma and their brand WeWearCute signed The Joester Loria Group as their licensing representative. Their channel, with new videos posted three or four times per day, features lifestyle content, product features (from Kraft to Lipsmackers), creativity, and pranks and is geared for viewers aged six to 13. The site has 3 million followers, more than 250 monthly views, and average video views of 1.6 million. Plans include licensing deals and collaborations in beauty, apparel and accessories, home goods, and publishing.

• Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, also sisters, signed with UTA for licensing as well as digital content, podcasts, books, endorsements, TV, and live touring. Charli is known for her dance and lip sync videos and has 17.7 million followers on TikTok alone. Dixie, with 6 million followers, specializes in dancing and comedy. The girls’ parents, Marc (1.5 million followers) and Heidi (600,000), also signed with the agency.

• Lisa and Lena, another pair of sisters, from Germany, were among the top celebrities on TikTok from their launch in 2015 (when the site was known as until they left the platform in September 2019. (They remain on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch.) They have their own apparel line called JM1O71 and have launched a collaboration between JM1O71 and Buffalo, a German footwear label, for a capsule of three sneaker styles. Earlier this month, the shoe collection was introduced into the U.S. market through a one-day pop-up in Los Angeles; the items are also available internationally online.

• Noen Eubanks, who has become somewhat of a style icon on TikTok, signed a deal in May 2019 with agency Kyra, which partnered with him on his NotNoen apparel line and also assists with his content production and brand partnerships. Eubanks, who has 7.5 million TikTok followers, recently signed an endorsement deal as the face of the Celine fashion brand.

All of these influencers have a presence across multiple social media platforms, but TikTok leads the way (except for Lisa and Lena, now, although the platform and its precursor made their name). The app’s continued fast pace of user growth, along with the fact that it appeals to the coveted teenage market, suggests that we are likely to see more licensing and collaboration programs from TikTok stars come to light in the near future.

Join Ira Mayer and Karen Raugust at their New York Toy Fair panel, “Licensed Toys: 10 Ways to Succeed in a Changing Retail Landscape,” at 10 a.m. this coming Monday, February 24, at the Javits Center. The presentation is part of the Licensing Content Connection track. If you’d like to meet with Karen Raugust during Toy Fair, contact her here.

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