EAST HANOVER, NJ: Sour Patch Kids has more than 1 million followers on TikTok. That makes it the most-followed snack brand on the platform, according to its associate director of marketing, Mili Laddha.
The candy brand launched its TikTok page in June 2020 because that’s where its core consumers were, Laddha explained. TikTok gained in popularity amid the pandemic as people were stuck in lockdown, and it ended up being the most-downloaded app of 2020, according to analytics firm App Annie.
Laddha and a brand manager handle Sour Patch Kids’ TikTok content, along with the agency 360i. Shelby Jacobs, social marketing and strategy manager at the agency, comes up with Sour Patch Kids’ TikTok strategy and content creation. Its PR partner is Ketchum.
The strategy is a mix of art and science, with the brand constantly keeping an eye on trends and consumer behaviors on TikTok.
The brand prefers putting its own Sour Patch Kids-spin on viral trends.
“Last summer, a lot of people on TikTok were showing pictures of their fridges and all of the healthy foods in there,” said Laddha. “We had fun with that trend because we are a candy brand. So we opened our fridge and all you could see was candy.”
That video ended up as Sour Patch Kids’ most viewed video with 5.4 million views. It has been liked 1 million times.
TikTok has also been a useful tool for promoting brand initiatives and new products. It is also helping the brand connect with Gen Z in a meaningful way.
At the end of June, Sour Patch Kids saw a particularly big uptick in followers, 50,000, after it said it was teaming up with Twitch on a limited-edition custom mix of candy featuring Twitch creator TimTheTatman.
“That was [boosted] by the fact that we were really leaning in on a Gen Z occasion,” said Laddha. “Gaming is huge among the Gen Z community, especially now with platforms like Twitch and influencers playing in that space.”
Creating even further buzz was a fake mini “feud” Sour Patch Kids got into with YouTuber Markiplier. After the brand’s partnership with TimTheTatman was announced, Markiplier blocked Sour Patch Kids’ Twitter account. Evidently, he was offended the brand hadn’t partnered with him as he had previously created five YouTube videos reviewing various Sour Patch Kids products.
You don’t get a second chance. What we had was special and wonderful and you still threw it all away. I get it, Tim’s handsome as hell but I was THE Sour Patch Review channel. Key word…WAS. pic.twitter.com/RkvxMVWQ3Z— Mark (@markiplier) June 30, 2021
Sour Patch Kids responded with a TikTok video stating that it “does not care” about hurting Markiplier’s feelings.
It was all a joke, emphasized Laddha.
The brand’s follower count also went up after its first freestanding store opened in New York City last summer.
“With travel restrictions, a lot of people were not making their way into different parts of the country, but they could experience the store through TikTok,” said Laddha.
Sour Patch Kids also got attention with its April Fools’ Day #SourPatchPrankFund challenge on TikTok, rewarding fans with cash and candy for their pranks. It partnered with five pranksters on TikTok for the campaign, including: @TheCrazyGorilla, @VirziTriplets, @SometimesMamaYells, @SantiAndMikay, and @TattedBoy92.
The videos for that got over 1 billion views “because consumers were having so much fun creating their own pranks,” said Laddha.
Laddha’s tips for brands that want to be successful on TikTok? Test and learn and see what works for your brand.
“Consumers will give you indications of what works,” she said. “Have fun with it. This is an opportunity to have fun and be a little cheekier.”