Sunday December 04, 2022

TikTok marketing lead behind its NFTs and ghost kitchens no longer at the company

According to the New York Post, Nick Tran is no more TikTok’s global head for marketing. This was reportedly due to the company being unimpressed by his “side-show” marketing campaigns. One of his most memorable “stunt marketing” schemes was opening TikTok Kitchens. This allowed people to apply for jobs at places like Chipotle and Target via TikToks. The Post also reports that Tran’s restaurant campaign where ghost chefs would cook and deliver the recipes that went viral on TikTok was one of the last straws. One executive said that they are not in the restaurant business and shouldn’t pretend so. It is difficult to see a connection between TikTok’s actual business, hosting short form videos, and how these campaigns help to boost its image (apart perhaps from getting people to talk about TikTok), according to some of the campaigns.
However, not all TikTok’s ads are so tangentially related. One of the ads that “you must see it” featured people (including Martha Stewart), talking about the series of TikToks in which someone found an entire apartment hidden behind their bathroom mirror. It was truly enjoyable.
Before being poached, Tran worked for Hulu. According to a 2020 profile in Fortune’s Forty Under 40, he also worked on some strange ads there. He was part of Hulu’s Super Bowl commercial that used an egg to encourage people to “talk with someone” if they are struggling with mental health. This capitalized on the egg picture that became the most popular post on Instagram at the time. Although the ad does not feature Hulu branding, the company made a big deal of sponsoring the egg during the Super Bowl.
Tran also led an advertising campaign called “Better is ruins everything” where celebrities advised you not buy Hulu (it’s not like Patagonia telling us not to purchase their jacket). The celebrities are warning that Hulu will be your best friend after you use it.
Although Tran’s marketing stunts were not directly related to TikTok’s, it’s not unusual for marketing these days. Did seeing a baby Mr. Peanut make your stomach growl? Did you feel inspired to buy a Lenovo laptop after hearing a heavy metal band scream out a portion of one of The Verge’s reviews? (Okay, that was actually quite amazing. Although TikTok did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment, he confirmed Tran’s departure in an Ad Age statement. However, he does mention Global Head of Marketing at TikTok on LinkedIn. TikTok wished Tran well in his future endeavors, and we’ll likely hear about them.

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