Bashing TikTok: Sponsored By TikTok

Bashing TikTok: Sponsored By TikTok
Photo by Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

Audiences that tuned into Wednesday night’s Republican Primary Debate on Fox News heard many familiar talk tracks, including back-and-forth around the societal and security issues with TikTok.

Entertainingly, that conversation was followed directly – at 10:29 p.m. – by an ad for the social video app, “Meet Jessie Whittington.” The spot doesn’t address the debate, but plays as a spot geared toward the Fox News audience, revolving around a soap entrepreneur in Mississippi. Data from iSpot shows that over 23% of household TV ad impressions for the ad, since it debuted in August 2023, have been delivered on Fox News.

Since TikTok was banned on U.S. federal government devices in June, the app has focused spots primarily on individual creators – and in many cases, business owners that utilize TikTok. iSpot shows that almost 48% of TikTok household TV ad impressions since June 1 were accounted for by “Patriotic Kenny and Amanda,” another spot that aired during the debate. The Whittington ad accounts for nearly 38% of ad impressions in the timeframe.

TikTok has focused heavily on cable news networks and broadcast in that timeframe as well. Fox News is the No. 1 network by share of TikTok TV ad impressions since June 1, with 18.9%, while CNN is No. 2 at 15.2%. CBS, Fox, ABC and MSNBC are all among the top 10 as well.

Given the nature of the U.S. news discourse around TikTok right now, perhaps the app figures the ads move toward “setting the record straight” immediately after on-air critiques. If audiences are most likely to retain the last thing they hear about TikTok, that could be the entrepreneurship-focused ads.

Audiences Respond Well to the Ads, Too

iSpot Creative Assessment data shows the spots are finding some success around narrative, too.

  • The top emotional response from survey respondents around the Whittington spot was for its narrative, and 29% of respondents said the message was the single best thing.
  • “Patriotic Kenny and Amanda” came off as both heartfelt and inspired to survey respondents, and the single best thing was the message there as well, according to 36% of those surveyed.
  • The ad was also 19% more likeable than other technology ads since June 1.

So for now, at least, it seems that TikTok is fine with the extra publicity, as it successfully finds ways to spin that toward more positive attention through its ads.