Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Bala integrated the brand as part of its small-town narrative, where a character plays a TikTok celebrity and dances to videos of popular Hindi movie songs.
Other films like Housefull 4, Judgementall Hai Kya, Bharat, Gully Boy and Dream Girl have put out their music on TikTok allowing users to create videos out of it.
In fact, for Judgementall Hai Kya, lead stars Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao shot a video with TikTok influencers, some of whom -- like Poonam Chaudhary and Krystal D’Souza -- put out their own videos to its Wakhra Swag number.
To be sure, the appeal of the ByteDance-owned social networking service lies in reaching out to diverse sets of mass audiences and letting them interact and innovate with the content instead of just viewing it.
“TikTok’s primary value proposition is that in addition to liking, sharing, or commenting, users can engage with artistes and music by creating their own videos," a spokesperson for the Chinese company said, adding that one of the first film collaborations for the platform was with Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero a year ago where dialogues and short video excerpts from the movie were released on TikTok.
“In India, movies are one of the biggest inspirational forces that encourage users to bring out their creativity and showcase their talent. TikTok enables just that, as our users not only consume content but create as well," the person added.
The platform allows the exchange of information and collaboration between users, creators and artistes to share innovative content, thus playing the role of a catalyst to drive conversations around the movies. For example, the remake of the popular dance track O Saki Saki featured in John Abraham-starrer Batla House saw Nora Fatehi who featured in the song along with singer Tulsi Kumar, engage with popular TikTok creators to highlight the hook step in a video, which garnered over 450 million views on the service. The original song had more than two million video creations.
Industry experts say movie promotions with TikTok only act as partnerships to share content and further reach without financial arrangements. However, creators and influencers are definitely leveraging their personal TikTok accounts for brand promotions nowadays and making good money. India’s influencer market is estimated at $75-150 million a year, as compared to the global market of $1.75 billion, according to an earlier Mint report.
While TikTok itself is still an emerging platform, movie productions are definitely targeting digital media for marketing and promotional campaigns, increasingly moving away from traditional advertising routes.
“TikTok is certainly the most buzz-worthy platform out there for the millennials. I think they’re hitting culture at the right moment," Judgementall Hai Kya producer Ekta Kapoor was quoted as saying in an interview.
Navin Khemka, CEO, MediaCom, South Asia, said TikTok is the perfect example of both reach and engagement for films that have to create enough buzz in a limited marketing period to notch up big opening numbers. The service last reported 277.6 million downloads for India despite a public interest litigation filed against ByteDance this year accusing it of spreading violence, pornography and blasphemy via the app.
“Now we receive an increasing number of requests for film collaborations, from record labels and also from individual artistes to exclusively launch music on our platform with the recent one being Harrdy Sandhu’s non-film number Dance Like," the spokesperson said. “The trend that has started now is of artistes wanting to explore releasing their song on our platform, even before going live on any other digital platform. This helps them build curiosity."
Sudish Balan, chief business officer at digital media marketing and advertising agency Tonic Worldwide called TikTok the most powerful platform for marketing today given the opportunity that it gives ordinary people to step out, express themselves and make money. It is, simply put, a case of 15 seconds of fame.
“An app like Instagram for instance, is not for these people, that is a little up there and pretentious, it’s about how good you and your environment look. TikTok is more emotionally driven, you see real India," Balan said. While a year ago, the service was more geared towards the heartland, Balan said it has now reached GenZ across the country and caters primarily to people in the 16-30 age group. Collaborations on films are a win-win for everyone because TikTok, as a platform is hungry for content while movies need wide reach.
Balan, however added that while international celebrities like Will Smith and Reese Witherspoon are as active on TikTok as they are on any other social media, Bollywood only engages with it when a film is up for release.
“I don’t see actors using the platform to the best of its advantage given that there are no personal accounts. But that should soon be changing," Balan said.