First Aid Beauty has launched a TikTok campaign that speaks to the emergence and importance of sonic identities within beauty.
First Aid Beauty has a new (at least) four-week paid TikTok campaign based on the release of its song called “TikTok Made Me Buy It.” It’s a self-referential song akin to the wildly popular videos and published stories pointing to products discovered via TikTok. First Aid Beauty had first-hand experience with the phenomena. Its KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub went viral over the summer when it was highlighted in an unpaid video by Wendy Sy (@WendySkin; 205,00 TikTok followers), garnering more than 35 million views.
TikTok’s dominance over beauty marketing has not only ushered in new approaches to content creation, but it’s also driven brands to embrace the idea of crafting a sonic identity. At its most straightforward, a sonic identity translates a brand’s identity into audio. Think: the classic sound of an Apple Mac starting up or, in the case of beauty, the iconic “Maybe it’s Maybelline” tagline as spoken in commercials.
Up until now, First Aid Beauty has taken a fairly spaghetti-on-a-wall approach to TikTok, posting a combination of humorous content, ingredient-education videos and TikTok trend-driven videos. It’s also seeded products to influencers. TikTok has made up 45% of First Aid Beauty’s influencer budget for 2021, compared to 15% in 2020, said Kerry Eagan, First Aid Beauty CMO. She added that the overall marketing investment in TikTok increased to 40% in 2021, from approximately 2% in 2020.
Lyrics to “TikTok Made Me Buy It” include the chorus, “TikTok made me buy it, and I’m obsessed. I’ve got that fab feeling; cause TikTok, yeah TikTok, made me buy it. Got my DM’s popping off.” The reference to “fab” is a callback to First Aid Beauty, and the app’s song library will have First Aid Beauty credited with its name and imagery.
“The song is not about [saying], ‘TikTok made me buy it,’ [as though] you checked a box. It’s more like saying, ‘I discovered this, and I’m feeling amazing. I’m feeling that fab.’ That’s what [content creators] will show in their videos … and how we married our brand with this song,” said Eagan.
TikTok is not the only place for sonic identities — brands have also crafted Spotify playlists and launched their own podcasts — but it’s also one of the biggest drivers and influences in beauty. TikTok content is not only engineered to go viral, but it can also trend for months and push decades-old songs to top-40 lists or years-old audio clips into the zeitgeist. And with that, sonic identities are even more critical.
“TikTok, Triller and now Instagram Reels and YouTube have created a sound-centric environment,” said Gabbie Bradford, co-founder of Song Candy, the music agency that worked with First Aid Beauty to create the song.
First Aid Beauty is also not the only brand to recently try to tap into a new omni-sensory strategy. In October, Viktor & Rolf perfume launched an audio sampling program for its Spicebomb fragrance in conjunction with fragrance house IFF. And as far back as 2018, Guerlain created a digital radio platform called Olfaplay, which now appears inactive. Of course, brands including Nars and Ulta Beauty have also been involved with audio platforms like Clubhouse or Spotify ads, though that falls short of creating a sound-based identity.
“We’ve done some advertising on both Pandora and Spotify, where we’ve had some level of sound effect, but I don’t think we had landed on our signature calling card,” said Eagan. “We hope that this [song] can be it within TikTok and that this will evolve. Having a sonic identity is something that is part of every brand’s present and future these days.”
First Aid Beauty tasked 13 paid influencers to post videos using the song. Eagan said that the goal is to reach between 25 million and 100 million impressions on TikTok via a mix of paid and unpaid efforts. First Aid Beauty will invest in at least a four-week paid campaign, with potential for extension and alterations. But First Aid Beauty is also looking for a lift in sales. Eagan said the brand sees a significant link to sales conversion – the Wendy Sy video drove the body scrub’s best-ever week of sales in July.
“What’s lovely is that the beauty industry is ripe for [sonic identities], especially because it’s aspirational, inspirational and cool,” said Adam Pleiman, creative director at sonic identity agency Gwynne Sound. Gwynne Sound has worked with brands like Secret deodorant and Gillette. “[Those brands] get to be on the edge of something, rather than playing it safe. [The beauty industry] is always about creating something new and iterating on it, while also nodding to the past.”