Strategic uses of sound are key to automotive brands’ success on TikTok

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

For automotive brands, it has become undeniable that TikTok offers incredible engagement opportunities and the ability to be truly creative. In a study by Kantar, 73% of respondents said they would “stop and watch” ads on TikTok with audio, which is significantly higher than the rate on any other platform. Add to that 88% saying sound is essential to the TikTok experience, and it becomes clear that for brands to resonate on the platform, they need to create ads holistically with audio as the primary creative driver.

License to be playful

Believe it or not, some of the best content on TikTok comes from car manufacturers. A study by Uswitch.com found that BMW and Mercedes rack up millions of views for creative content and TikTok challenges that engage enthusiasts. We are a long way from traditional automobile television advertising, which seems to be of less and less interest to consumers. That’s why, amid rising fuel prices, sustainability concerns, and a trend toward subscription-style ownership, TikTok can provide much-needed escape and an outlet for creative marketers to change. lane and find more playful ways to connect using sound.

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

Ford has only posted seven videos on TikTok, but is already showing great examples of trend capitalization in a fast, engaging and effective way. Take this Subaru video, standard content made much more appealing by the choice of track. Mercedes likes to play with different sounds and music depending on the mood she wants to evoke. What a great juxtaposition between this video where the visuals are amped up with the fast pace to evoke excitement and technological innovation, versus the softer summer vibes here coupled with a funky beat.

The sound of electric

As products, cars are traditionally noisy; the roar of an engine, the squeal of brakes, the squeal of tires, all can evoke feelings of speed, excitement, danger and thrills. Each brand sounds slightly different. Bentley, for example, is synonymous with luxury and refinement, while the sound of Ferrari is associated with pure power and acceleration. Yet as the industry turns to electric and autonomous vehicles, it’s on track for a radical, sonic overhaul. Amidst all these changes, there are more opportunities than ever for brand expression and the challenge for marketers is to maintain an engaging sound experience. TikTok can be incredibly useful for this. Grab this video from Mercedes which includes a bespoke Mercedes track edited to the visual motions of the car tour.

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

Carpool ideas

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

And let’s not forget the incredible power of TikTok to engage viewers with music. Brands can choose to tap into a current trending song that’s getting huge amounts of attention or even consider licensing something that not only reflects the brand, but will also engage viewers on a massive scale. Better yet, why not create an original sound all your own – Volkswagen may not be at the top of TikTok content, but with its #Pride post about electric vehicles garnering a huge number of views, it has created their own original music, adding energy that reflects brand values, great for brand equity.

It’s an exciting time in the automotive industry. Automotive brands thinking sonically on sound platforms such as TikTok will be well positioned to take advantage of the unique sound opportunities of an evolving 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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