TikTok, Jordache and Lululemon; A Lesson In App Advertising

About thirty bucks. That’s how much those sweet, sweet jeans with all kinds of patterns on the pockets cost in the eighties. Who could resist? I mean we saw Heidi Klum walking into a smoky bar and dancing, she looked sexy and satisfied in her “she can barely breath” tight pants. The tv ad showed every man in the room, dropping his cigarette in an ashtray and turning to get a look. For the younger, more innocent set, an ad cast a girl barely in her teens, wearing the coveted jeans at a carnival and being followed by a cute boy. Today we might call him a stalker, in the eighties it was puppy love.

These scenes spelled it out clearly, we needed the Jordache Look!

I remember the day I walked into Hess’s department store in my hometown, with birthday, babysitting and loose change cash to buy my first pair. I had to lay on my bed and use a comb to pull up the zipper. They were perfect.

Fast forward four decades and the beautiful woman is still dancing. But she’s doing it in Lululemon on TikTok. The denim is gone, replaced with soft and comfortable leggings. Leggings that cost a hundred bucks. The closest I’ve come to this brand is an Athleta dress I bought at a consignment store.

But my 12 and half year old, the TikTok master, the tween who does intricate dances in public places to post on the social media giant, she knows Lulu. Those overpriced leggings are her Jordache Jeans. Last week, my girl who normally despises shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, happily walked with me to Walnut Street. We went straight to Lululemon and left with a really fancy bag carrying the coveted leg coverings. I remembered the pure joy I felt walking to my dad’s Buick with my Hess’s bag in hand. I saw it in her face, and it made me happy.

But it also got me thinking about her Christmas list. It included specific lotions and skincare products, a special towel for her wet hair and a Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool. What the hell? I didn’t even know what that was, Santa didn’t either. But I don’t use TikTok. My exposure to social media advertising is the pair of Frye boots I looked at once online that now follow me on my Facebook feed. But TikTok has all the shiny things.

The social media giant raked in $4 billion dollars of ad revenue in 2021 and it is projecting triple that in 2022. It’s the world’s most downloaded app and surpassed Google as the most popular site on the internet. Twenty-five percent of its users are between the ages of 10 and 19. Not exactly a group oozing disposable income, but still very attractive to advertisers. The possibilities are endless and TikTok is upping its advertising game. There are websites with step -by-step instructions on how to advertise a product or brand. Ads users don’t even see coming, are planted in video feeds and they’re powerful. The In-Feed Ad is the most common on TikTok. They blend in with native content, the viewer is already engaged so this ad is just one more on the list.

The remote control made us wise to skipping commercials on TV, we could channel surf. TikTok ads hide in plain sight and like magic the Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool appears on my tween’s Christmas list.

I’ve spent years working in television, I know ads pay the bills, I know the tremendous amount of strategy that goes into their creation and placement. I have produced thousands of newscasts around them. Strategies on how to keep the commercial break “channel surfing” from affecting your newscast’s ratings is drilled into every producer’s head. Because your audience sees those commercial breaks coming, viewers are prepared to bounce, and you must minimize the damage.

TikTok has more than two billion downloads and it’s not slowing dow. 2022 is shaping up to be a banner year. Companies like Salesforce are rolling out brand new social media commerce tools. Spark Ads are growing in popularity, they allow advertisers to leverage organic content and user generated content in their advertising. Your teen could be an online salesperson with no salary! Spark Ads direct users to the brands account page or an off-platform landing page.

My curiosity about the sophisticated products appearing on my daughter’s wish lists led me to do just a shallow dive into TikTok advertising but I got quite the education. My Lululemon wearing 12-year-old with a skin care routine that rivals that of a super model makes a bit more sense to me. I still don’t really get what the Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool is and why it’s a must for smooth, wrinkle-free teenaged skin,  but someone on TikTok thinks it is. But thanks to that costly trip to Lululemon, my fond memories of Jordache Jeans and Heidi Klum in a smoky bar, facial serums and special hair towels, I see what you’re doing TikTok.

As long as the app remains free and uses some of that rad ad money to increase safety measures for minors, I can live with it. After all it’s up to me as a mom to sell my daughter on natural beauty, self-esteem and thrift store shopping for Lulu. I may not have an account but I see you TikTok.



"These scenes spelled it out clearly, we needed the Jordache look!

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