Strategic uses of sound key to automotive brand success on TikTok

TikTok can offer an outlet for creative marketers to find more playful ways to connect using sound, suggests Roscoe Williamson

For automotive brands, it’s become undeniable that TikTok offers unbelievable engagement opportunities and the ability to really be creative. In a Kantar study, 73% of respondents said they would ‘stop and look’ at ads on TikTok with audio, which is significantly higher than the rate on any other platform. Couple that with 88% saying that sound is essential to the TikTok experience, and it becomes obvious that for brands to resonate on the platform, they need to build ads holistically with audio as a primary creative driver.

The license to be playful

Believe it or not, some of the best content on TikTok comes from automotive manufacturers. A study by found that the likes of BMW and Mercedes are amassing millions of views for creative content and TikTok challenges that engage enthusiasts. This is a far cry from traditional automotive TV advertising that seems to be engaging consumers less and less. Which is why, amidst rising fuel prices, sustainability concerns and a drive to more subscription-style ownership, TikTok can offer some much-needed escapism and an outlet for creative marketers to switch lanes and find more playful ways to connect using sound.

For brands to resonate on the platform, they need to build ads holistically with audio as a primary creative driver.

Ford has only posted seven videos on TikTok but already is showing good examples of capitalising on the trends in quick, engaging and effective ways. Take this video by Subaru, a standard piece of content made far more engaging by the choice of track. Mercedes likes to play around with different sounds and music depending on the mood it wants to evoke. What a great juxtaposition between this video where the visuals are edited in time with the fast beat to evoke excitement and technological innovation, compared to the more gentle, summery vibes here coupled with a funky beat.

The sound of electric

As products, cars have traditionally been noisy; the roaring sound of an engine, the squealing of brakes, the screeching of tyres—all can evoke feelings of speed, excitement, danger and thrill-seeking. Each brand sounds slightly different. Bentley, for example, is synonymous with luxury and refinement, whilst the sound of Ferrari is associated with sheer power and acceleration. Yet, as the industry moves towards electric and autonomous vehicles, it is on course for a radical, sonic overhaul. In amongst all this change, there are more opportunities than ever for brand expression and the challenge for marketers is to maintain an engaging sonic experience. TikTok can be incredibly useful for this. Take this video from Mercedes that includes a bespoke Mercedes track edited in line with the visual movements of the car tour.

There are more opportunities than ever for brand expression and the challenge for marketers is to maintain an engaging sonic experience

Carpool ideas

Kantar research shows that 61% of TikTok-ers like brands better when they create or participate in a trend on TikTok. Brands can tap into this huge source of creativity and innovation by collaborating with established and influential TikTok-ers in fun ways. For example, as cars become quieter, TikTok-ers could be invited to produce their own ideal sounds of their car. Why not look at creating a bespoke soundscape of product sounds that content creators can weave into content?

And let’s not forget the incredible power TikTok has on engaging viewers with music. Brands can choose whether to tap into a current trending song that is garnering massive attention or even look at licensing something that not only reflects the brand but will also engage viewers on a large scale. Even better, why not create an original sound that is uniquely yours—Volkswagen might not be leading on TikTok content but with its electric vehicle #Pride post that garnered a large number of views, it created its own original music, adding an energy that reflects the brand values, great for brand equity.

It’s an exciting time in the automotive industry. Automotive brands thinking sonically across sound-on platforms like TikTok will be well placed to leverage the unique opportunities of the sound of a very changing automotive future.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Roscoe Williamson isChief Strategy Director and Partner at MassiveMusic

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