Gushers and Fruit by the Foot worked to elevate the voices of Black influencers on TikTok while simultaneously striving to promote social justice through donations to the NAACP.
Objective and Context:
Gushers and Fruit by the Foot have historically marketed themselves as fun fruit snack brands for mothers to stuff into her kids lunchboxes; however, in recent years, the brands had repositioned themselves to directly target teens, and had specifically become a favorite among Black teens through activations in music and sports with partners such as Richard Sherman and others.
To further succeed with members of this audience, Gushers and Fruit by the Foot needed to prove that they cared about them and would enable their elf-expression. The brands needed to find a way to take a stand for the things that this audience believed in. Research indicated that Black Lives Matter was the No. 1 cause that generation Z teens cared about.
In the midst of summer 2020's Black Lives Matter protests, Gushers and Fruit by the Foot heard reports that Black creators were having their voices and content systemically suppressed on social media platforms, where biased algorithms downplayed content associated with controversial content.
At the forefront of the controversy was TikTok, where many Black creators accused the app of taking down, muting, and hiding their videos. They claimed the app manipulated view counts on videos tagged with #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd, effectively forcing creators to choose between speaking their minds or getting seen (and thus paying a price for their creativity). While TikTok's teen user base is famously multicultural, its top influencers are almost all white, posing an obstacle to Black creators who wish to capitalize on their influence to drive U.S. culture.
To effectively promote their brands, Gushers and Fruit by the Foot needed to connect meaningfully and authentically with teens, particularly as members of this audience sought to express themselves..
Over the past few years, teen expression has evolved to take on more societal, cultural, and environmental issues.
Research shows that:
At the same time, barely one-third of teens agree that large corporations care about their consumers.
Gushers and Fruit by the Foot also noticed that teens were getting creative about how they showed their support. Lacking disposable income to directly support causes they cared about, they repeatedly watched videos about such causes, knowing their viewership would increase ad revenue to those causes and voices.
Gushers has advertised regularly on TikTok and has a great partnership with the platform, thanks to a mutual belief in creativity and self-expression. And yet, in the midst of this controversy and at a time when teens were feeling exhausted and downtrodden by the rising tide of social injustice in the U.S., Gushers and Fruit by the Foot questioned whether TikTok was appropriate for its brands or its consumers.
However, instead of pulling its advertising off TikTok, Gushers and Fruit by the Foot decided to use the power of their media investment and the energy of their consumers to be a part of the solution for change and equality, providing a platform for Black creators, and a platform for change for young voices nationwide.
Gushers and Fruit by the Foot created #BlackVoicesCreate, a program aimed at elevating Black voices on the platform where they believed they had been silenced, ensuring their voices could be heard. And through a partnership with the NAACP, Gushers and Fruit by the Foot ensured those voices had a stage to effect change for the future.
Overall Campaign Execution:
#BlackVoicesCreate focused on elevating young Black creatives on TikTok. Gushers and Fruit by the Foot specifically picked a range of Black micro- and macro-influencers and creators to support and turned their sponsored videos into fundraisers for the NAACP. The brands thus effectively counteracted the perceived effects of TikTok's algorithm by challenging their consumers to support and like these videos.
#BlackVoicesCreate came to life through four phases, all intended to elevate the profile of Black creators and ensure their impact reverberated across the culture.
According to Pew, Black Americans are far more likely than other racial groups to feel that they are misunderstood by the media industry and news organizations. And following the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, this became even clearer, as numerous publishers and tech companies came forward to share how content around Black lives was being disproportionally blocked, leading to demonetization and censorship of Black voices.
This campaign was created solely to work with Black content creators on TikTok as a mobile campaign.
Gushers and Fruit by the Foot earned teens' attention and engagement, as evidenced by the fact that:
Gushers and Fruit by the Foot ensured Black voices were heard:
Gushers and Fruit by the Foot made a positive impact on culture for generations to come: