Nathan Apodaca, whose username is Doggface208, uploaded a video to TikTok on September 25th of himself skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” while drinking from a bottle of Ocean Spray Cranberry-Raspberry Juice. The video went viral and had over 61 million views as of October 20th.

In today’s episode, we discuss what did Apodaca’s viral video does for him, “Dreams,” and Ocean Spray, and how do short form or viral videos impact marketing.

Apodaca’s video got many responses, and most of them were as wholesome as Apodaca’s video itself.

The lovable Apodaca inspired many remakes of the video, many of them also TikToks, as the content was a much-needed break for many from the barrage of negative election and coronavirus news.  All the remakes brought on a new surge in popularity of the song “Dreams,” which prompted Mick Fleetwood himself to create a TikTok account. Fleetwood created the account on October 4th for the sole purpose of posting a recreation of Apodaca’s video. Stevie Nicks joined the platform on October 14th to post a video of her own. 

Ocean Spray reached out to Apodaca on September 29th – just 4 days after he posted the video.

The stage was certainly set for Ocean Spray to jump in and acknowledge that their juice had inadvertently acquired global fame by responding to the video sooner. Instead, the brand played it cool. They planned and organized their response while the meme unfolded naturally and gained more and more popularity online. Two days after Mick Fleetwood himself had already joined the hype surrounding the viral video, Ocean Spray responded in the form of their chief executive Tom Hayes joining TikTok to post yet another recreation of the video.

When the video went viral, Ocean Spray reached out to Apodaca and learned that he had been longboarding in the video because he was on his way to work, and his car had broken down. Ocean Spray gifted Apodaca a cranberry-red truck stocked full of Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice. While this might be indicative of Ocean Spray plotting a long term marketing strategy, it also speaks to the immediate effects of the viral video. 

Events from late 2019 to the present have prompted many consumers to seek positive and uplifting content and interactions to combat what’s going on in everyday life. Fueled by COVID, there has also been a noticeable uptick in desire for more inclusivity and realness and over storytelling, and with many people working from home, storytelling has started to take on new forms. Those new forms expand from the hilarious and lighthearted to the educational, meaningful, and even life-changing. “New forms” of storytelling can also include creating or expanding mediums such as podcasts or short-form videos on platforms like TikTok.

What’s important for Ocean Spray and all companies wanting to stay engaged with their consumers and remain reactive is that platforms like TikTok – and arguably only TikTok – are changing how companies interact with consumers.  Apodaca’s viral video and its responses are a succinct example of why companies must connect with brand ambassadors – or just everyday consumers –  by listening to social media conversations and reaching out with responses and kudos. What was important for Ocean Spray specifically in the Ocean Spray/”Dreams” event is that Apodaca wasn’t the only one who benefited from the increased demand for cranberry juice. 

For consumer/brand interactions like this to happen, not only does there need to be a platform, but the platform has to be big enough to generate national or even international attention. So, if the OceanSpray/”Dreams” situation were an equation, its factors would include Apodaca, Ocean Spray, Fleetwood Mac, and…TikTok. “Dreams” had already hit No.1 on iTunes by the time Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks joined TikTok and posted their recreation videos. 

By the time their videos went up, they had already experienced inadvertent gain and could have gone without replying but chose to do so anyway.  So, if the OceanSpray/”Dreams” situation couldn’t have happened without the platform, then how did TikTok benefit from it?

The only factor in the OceanSpray/”Dreams” equation that didn’t immediately receive a direct or inadvertent benefit from the viral video was TikTok.  Rather than inadvertently benefiting from a happy accident like the rest, TikTok had to put in the leg work to see any kind of gain from the video. Wanting to highlight its contribution as the platform that brought it all together, TikTok’s initial reaction to Apodaca’s popular video wasn’t to give him a truck full of cranberry juice. Instead, TikTok incorporated the video into its most recent marketing campaign. They produced a commercial that features the original TikTok video with a few copycat videos flashing on either side of Apodaca’s version in the center.  The campaign is meant to highlight all the ways the platform impacts culture. It doesn’t highlight, but rather proves through action rather than words, how the platform impacts marketing.

Whether viral success is a happy accident or a result of creating content with the goal of getting recognition, both lead to connectivity. That connectivity gives consumers and companies an equal opportunity for overnight success while also creating a space for mutually beneficial relationships between consumers and companies. Whether it’s TikTok or another social media platform, companies have to sign up and create an account just like any other user and in such casual formats, brands are having to act less like brands and more like people (or, in some cases, teenagers). Ocean Spray reacted to their dose of sudden attention with a sort of dignified grace. But there are plenty of other brands out there that are a bit more… off the cuff. Dunkin’ Donuts’ Twitter is a good example of a meme-savvy brand account. Wendy’s Twitter is also a good example and a good laugh: on October 8th, Wendy’s tweeted TikTok user Rebecca Seals’ impersonation of Apodaca’s “Dream” video. 

The most important lesson to learn from this story: The way brands interact with consumers, and vice versa is changing. Spaces for mutually beneficial relationships between consumers and companies haven’t existed – or been as easy to access – before platforms like TikTok.

On Instagram and Twitter, brands have the option to set up an account tailored to business and marketing. There, success is attributed more to algorithms than on TikTok, where success seems to come from what people like the most. What that means is reactiveness on a company’s part is all the more important. Memes are born, they live, and they die relatively quickly so you have to take advantage of opportunities, or you risk missing out.

Ocean Spray was in contact with Apodaca just four days after the video was only posted. 

Stories like Apodaca’s just go to show that marketers can learn by paying attention to the community and noticing the nuances of the craft, innovation, and creative collaboration, particularly in short-form videos online.

In their quick response, Ocean Spray demonstrated the importance of reaction and timing as well as sincerity, authenticity, and how an engaging online presence can help a brand meet short-term goals while simultaneously benefiting the company for the long haul.

We talk about:

[03:50] Nathan Apodaca on TikTok and why this is an interesting marketing case study
[08:15] Ocean Spray’s reaction
[12:15] What Apodaca’s video did for Ocean Spray
[15:00] Why is this important?
[21:30] Examples of internet sensations using it for personal brand purpose
[23:20]  Why is this important for Ocean Spray
[29:50] What can we learn from that

Episode Script Writer: Grace Wall
Research Analyst: Gertruda Gilyte

Enjoy the show!

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