Company: Procter & Gamble
Partners: Grey (creative), TikTok (platform)
Duration: March 2020
Influencer Charli D’Amelio released a video on TikTok called the #DistanceDance as part of a campaign designed to encourage young people to stay home and social distance.
In March, as the spread of COVID-19 essentially shut the country down, news reports continued to circulate of young people congregating in large numbers, including a series of stories featuring kids on spring break in Florida.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was concerned by these reports. On March 20, he called David Taylor, the CEO of Procter & Gamble, one of the largest employers in the state, to discuss potential strategies for communicating the importance of social distancing and staying home to Gen Z.
P&G scheduled a call with agency partner Grey the next day to strategize.
“We typically start with the creative idea before we think about the media channel,” said Grey CMO Cory Berger. “But in this instance, when we looked at what the challenge was, it was inverse.”
As it was clear TikTok was the ideal platform for reaching young people from the get-go, “we built the creative idea specifically for that platform,” Berger explained.
Grey reached out to TikTok about partnering with influencer Charli D’Amelio who, with more than 56.6 million followers, is the platform’s biggest star. TikTok facilitated the connection and also donated the media for the campaign.
D’Amelio choreographed the #DistanceDance herself. She also suggested that P&G add a charitable component to the campaign. The company agreed that for each video created as a result of the challenge it would donate an item to Feeding America and Matthew 25: Ministries to help families in need.
Speed was crucial.
“It was the first time in our careers where ‘time is of the essence’ actually made sense,” said Kenny Gold, director of social media North America at Grey. “Every moment we hesitated another kid went outside and this thing continued to spread.”
The campaign led to the creation of more than 3.5 million unique #DistanceDance videos, which have collectively been viewed more than 15.6 billion times, the most viewed hashtag challenge on TikTok to date. The hashtag also generated more than 90 million content shares.
D’Amelio’s original #DistanceDance video has been viewed more than 191 million times, making it the most viewed video on the platform of all time. Since posting the video, she has gained more than 10 million followers.
While the campaign was focused on TikTok, it also led to earned media placements, including coverage in USA Today, Entertainment Tonight, the Hollywood Reporter and British Vogue.
Its success was a result of having the “stars align across the board,” Gold said. The need was clear; P&G leapt at the chance to help; TikTok was a willing and generous partner; and finally, D’Amelio not only understood the platform but could communicate the message in a truly viral way.
“She has an unbelievable head on her shoulders,” Gold said. “She used her massive community to do good.”