Junk food brands are turning TikTok users into free ‘brand ambassadors’

Junk food brands are turning TikTok users into free ‘brand ambassadors’
Junk food brands are turning TikTok users into free ‘brand ambassadors’

LONDON — Junk food brands have apparently discovered a bunch of latest workers to deal with their advertising on social media — TikTok users. A brand new examine reveals that food and beverage brands are encouraging folks to indicate off these usually unhealthy meals.
Health food specialists argue that, due to the platform’s recognition with kids, there must be insurance policies which shield them from unhealthy promoting. Study authors discovered these corporations are successfully turning folks into “model ambassadors” — in addition to utilizing their very own accounts for promotional messaging.
The workforce assessed video content material posted on the social media platform and found that kids encounter a “huge quantity” of unhealthy food advertising on-line — that includes merchandise excessive in salt, sugar, and fats. The proof exhibits that this publicity finally influences a baby’s food preferences, shopping for habits, and total eating regimen.
1 in 3 TikTok users are kids
TikTok users create, publish, watch, and interact with quick movies that are anyplace from 15 seconds to a few minutes lengthy. Since its launch, TikTok’s recognition has skyrocketed, with the variety of month-to-month lively users rising from 55 million in January 2018 to at least one billion in September 2021. More than a 3rd of its day by day users within the U.S. are reportedly beneath the age of 14.
Despite its immense recognition, researchers haven’t seemed on the platform’s affect on unhealthy food advertising — regardless of requires extra analysis into the well being implications of social media.
Study authors examined the movies on the accounts of 16 main food and non-alcoholic drink brands — primarily based on their international model share. They additionally assessed the content material and sentiments shared on the platform by TikTok users responding to every firm’s branded hashtag challenges.
Overall, the examine included 539 movies posted on the 16 firm accounts between 2019 and 2021. Four of those corporations didn’t publish something new throughout this time.
As for his or her affect, the businesses had anyplace from 14 to 1.6 million followers on-line. Their movies obtained a median of 63,400 views, 5,829 likes, 157 feedback, and 36 shares per publish. The commonest advertising methods concerned branding (87% of the movies), product photos (85%), engagement (31%), and appearances by celebrities or influencers (25%).
Branded hashtag challenges inspired users to create their very own content material that includes the model’s merchandise, movies, or branded results — together with stickers, filters, or different particular results with the corporate’s model on it.
Junk food movies get billions of views
When you issue within the content material created by followers of those junk food brands, the entire variety of views involving these problem movies ranged from 12.7 million to 107.9 billion. Among a pattern of 626 brand-relevant movies created in response to those challenges, 96 % featured branding, 68 % included product photos, and 41 % used branded results.
Three in 4 (73%) portrayed these merchandise in a optimistic mild, with solely three % presenting a detrimental opinion of junk food.
“Brand exercise has quickly elevated—with most movies posted within the 6 months previous information assortment—and contains instigation of branded hashtag challenges that encourage user-generated content material that includes model merchandise, brand-supplied movies or branded results,” researchers say in a media launch.
“Analysis of a pattern of brand-relevant user-generated content material created in response to those confirmed that branded hashtag challenges are successfully turning users into, in TikTok’s phrases, ‘unofficial model ambassadors’.”
Researchers add that whereas there have been fewer movies from paid influencers, these posts attracted almost 10 occasions as many likes compared to movies from common followers.
“The substantial attain of influencer advertising is regarding on condition that publicity to influencer advertising of unhealthy meals has been proven to extend vitality consumption (from unhealthy meals and total),” examine authors say.
Can governments step in?
The analysis workforce notes that proposed U.Ok. laws will ban all “paid-for” on-line advertising of “much less wholesome food and drink” beginning in January 2023. However, it contains an exemption for brand-only promoting, and excludes advertising originating outdoors the nation. Study authors add social networking platforms continuously function throughout worldwide borders.
“Our examine has proven that TikTok is an rising supply of unhealthy food advertising, together with that created by users on the instigation of brands. Given TikTok’s recognition amongst kids, our findings help the necessity for insurance policies that shield kids from the dangerous affect of food advertising, together with that on social networking platforms,” researchers conclude.
“TikTok’s rising recognition additionally requires additional analysis into its potential affect on public well being and its function as a company political actor.”
The findings are revealed in BMJ Global Health.
South West News Service author Stephen Beech contributed to this report.


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About the Author: Amanda