Can Instagram Reels be the New Home for the Brands?


Life as we know has taken a 360-degree turn, courtesy the global pandemic of Coronavirus. The epidemic which started in late 2019 in China has now hit almost every part of the world, forcing many countries into slowdown. And with it almost all venues
of recreation like malls, cinema halls, cafes, etc. are also out of bounds, thereby forcing people to spend more time on their smartphones for much needed entertainment. People now turn to social media and OTT platforms to make the best use of the
time on their hands.

Right now, when both marketers and customers are trapped in the web of uncertainty about health, social, and economic stability; brands are trying their best to support their audience through suitable messaging and actions. The on-going economic and social
changes have created an urgent need for brands to think outside the box to create opportunities to connect with their customers. Some have found a solution in digital conferencing apps like Zoom and DingTalk while others are opting for more unconventional
social media apps.

Catching on to this trend, short-video sharing platform – TikTok was the most preferred platform by the brands just until last month. However, the ban on the app left both the brands and the influencers startled. The ban on TikTok in India also paved
the way for many other apps and features like Instagram Reels, Mitron, Chingari, Bolo Indiya, and Roposo gaining massive popularity overnight. Amidst the new entrants in the list, Instagram reels instantly became the most preferred choice of the brand
owners. Keeping the idea of staying connected with the customers intact, brands instantaneously started leveraging the power of Instagram Reels.

Taking cue from the amazingly creative and effective campaigns on TikTok, brands have now started brainstorming on unique campaign ideas to increase brand affinity amongst their audiences on platforms like Instagram Reels.

Below is a glimpse of a few campaigns launched on TikTok during Covid-19. Now with the emergence of new apps and features, it will be an interesting site to see the revival of similar ideas portrayed on a new platform.

Campaigns to raise funds: While the world was struggling with this global menace, there were brands who equally emphasized on other essential causes for the betterment of society. Timed with the issue on hand, various FMCG and Accessories
brands leveraged TikTok to generate awareness and raise funds for causes like poverty, and hunger.

  • ⮚ #CookieWithACause by Oreo Oreo launched the #CookieWithACause challenge on TikTok by asking users to post a video of themselves with a cookie on their forehead and moving it to their mouth without using their hands. The campaign was launched internationally
    on TikTok and for the first 1 million #CookieWithACause video uploads, a donation was to be made to “Save the Children” to lend support for feeding and educating kids. The campaign generated over 29.5 million hashtag views within the first 24
    hours. Link:
  • ⮚ #UnpackThatChallenge Campaign by Jansport JanSport, the maker of backpacks and collegiate apparel introduced a hashtag challenge on the video app TikTok to raise awareness for a charity group helping students affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The
    campaign invited users to share their videos grabbing their backpacks from the left of frame and emptying out their belongings and handing over the empty bag to another user in a chain of videos. Timed with donation, Jansport planned to donate
    10K bags to World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with hunger and poverty. Link:

Social Awareness: At critical times like this, it was vital for the brands to understand their value and the unique role they play in people’s lives. It was important for brands to demonstrate how they can be useful to people in such

  • a) Awareness through Humour: Crisis requires communication to be responsible, considerate and empathetic. This is exactly what the state government of Karnataka decided to do when the lockdown was announced. The Karnataka government took to TikTok
    to raise mass awareness by posting multiple videos to convey the message of staying at home through humour and songs. For instance, in one of the videos, a wife asks her husband if they could go to her sister’s house for the Ugadi festival. The
    husband retorts sarcastically saying, “Let’s go and on the way let’s find corona virus and take it along with us.” The government also roped in popular local stars such as Puneeth Rajkumar and TV artists for these TikTok videos.
  • b) Awareness through Engagement: With increasing affinity, people came up with innovative ways of connecting with others over the platform. Brands tapped this platform by running innovative campaigns to drive engagement and generate awareness at the
    same time. Here’s a great example of such a campaign by Lifebouy

    • ⮚ #LifebouyKarona on TikTok As an attempt to spread awareness about COVID-19, Lifebuoy introduced a TikTok campaign with influencers and prominent faces including Badshah, Arjun Bijlani, Ashika Bhatia, Awez Darbar and more. The campaign was
      launched as a challenge to promote the performative steps of hand washing and make this good habit go viral. The campaign saw each participant uploading videos and tagging three other friends to follow the same. Link:
    • ⮚ #HandWashingChallenge by Dettol This UGC campaign #HandWashChallenge by Dettol intended to raise awareness about the simple steps to wash hands. Dettol rolled out the campaign on the platform in a consumable way. The brand roped in celebrities
      and influencers including Kartik Aaryan, Urvashi Rautela and Avneet Kaur to spread the campaign by being active participants. The campaign proved to be an immensely successful one for the brand by garnering over 50 billion views and generating
      over 123,000 user participation videos. Link:

  • c) Awareness through Influencers: It was only a short while since TikTok crashed the global social media party in 2018 and a lot happened since then. From global music sensations to popular Indian actors, TikTok boasted a long list of celebrities who
    marked their presence on the platform during the quarantine period. Speaking to the audience in the language of their favorite personalities, TikTok too launched its campaign to promote social messages to a larger audience.

    • ⮚ TikTok’s #GharBaithoIndia campaign The viral video app TikTok came up with a unique self-promotion campaign to encourage people to utilize the lockdown period to enhance their creativity while practicing self-isolation. Under this campaign, users uploaded
      unique recipes, their workout routine and even glimpses of them working from home. Many prominent celebrities like Riteish Deshmukh, Rannvijay Singh and Karanvir Bohra became a part of the campaign and shared their moments of fun and leisure
      in these tough times. The campaign garnered significant engagement from general users and celebrities alike. Link:


Despite just being a video sharing app, TikTok had created a strong identity for itself in a short span. Through simple operations, the app allowed its users to share compelling content with the masses and enhance their creative side. For instance, in
addition to creating their own videos, users could also interact with others by replicating or recreating their videos. A fine example of this is the Himalaya Men TikTok campaign – #BestFaceForward which was devised by Media Moments to introduce its
new range of Himalaya Men “Pimple Clear Neem Face Wash”. The campaign reaped in more than 9.5 Billion views, 2.6 Million+ user-generated videos along with a total engagement of 1 Billion+. Armed with the cool jingle of the TV commercial and cricket
sensations – Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant, Himalaya men launched a ‘Duet’ contest on TikTok which gave the audience their 15 seconds of fame with the sporting icons and Himalaya Men Pimple Clear Neem Face Wash. Virat and Rishabh invited their young
fans to put their ‘#BestFaceForward’ by showing off their moves on the interesting, brand TVC jingle thus engaging them to co-create cool, quirky dance videos with them.

With the diversification of demographics on the app from Gen Z to middle-aged; marketers successfully discovered TikTok to be the platform to garner significant engagement levels for brands, no matter how difficult times may be. TikTok had ticked with
the social media crazy audience and it will be a long time before people stop talking about it.

Having said that, post the ban on TikTok; apps including Instagram, Roposo, Mitron and the likes; will now allow the brands to showcase themselves at their creative best.

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