Using Nostalgia + Meme Marketing to Raise IPO valuation?

The elusive “viral marketing” campaign has long been the holy grail of marketing for 10+ years, and we’re starting to see unicorn companies put real value behind this idea. Airbnb was expected to IPO pre-COVID at $31 Billion, which then got nearly halved to $18 billion only a few months later. CEO Brian Chesky has spoken about the vacation industry shifting from air travel to drivable travel. We’re seeing that AirBNB’s outside of most major metropolitan areas are not only booked up through the next few weeks, or months, but through the holidays in busy areas. We think that these metrics have motivated Airbnb to once again file for an IPO sooner rather than later according to the Wall Street Journal.

Unlike Airbnb, it’s unlikely that you’ve heard much about Blockbuster recently, that’s because there is ONE remaining Blockbuster, which has existed as a PR stunt for years and is now finding it’s value. That value is using it’s intrinsic memetic nostalgia virality to lift up other brand experiences. Upon  sharing the listing it was trending near immediately on Twitter. Clearly charging $4/night for a “Stranger Things”-esque experience doesn’t exist to help BlockBuster, so who benefits? The other name in the headline, Airbnb. Airbnb has had a rough start to the year during the quarantine, but could leverage nostalgia and meme marketing, along with more old school tactics to build awareness to retain their potential $13 Billion Coronadeficit. 



TikTok-Ready Music: Remixes, Mashups, Transitions, + More 

TikTok and popular music are becoming increasingly intertwined. From “Say So” to “Savage” to “The Box” to “Old Town Road,” the Billboard charts often mirror the top TikTok trends. Songs can become hits on TikTok because they’re good to dance to, include a fun transition, feature unique sound effects, or simply for being catchy. 

As the link between what’s hot on TikTok and what’s hot everywhere else is strong, it’s important to consider another popular music genre within the app: homemade remixes. These TikTok-ready remixes often switch between two songs that sound totally different from each other. Such transitions lend themselves well to skits where there’s a sudden shift of change halfway through. Examples of this include the “This Is America”/”Congratulations” mashup used in a political video trend and the mashup of Ariana Grande’s “Greedy” and Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” used in the “Greedy For Treasure” dance. 

Another signature TikTok sound style features lyrics in languages other than English. Tracks like “Mi Pan Su Su,” “Xue Hua Piao Piao,” and the “Love I Know” song became popular among TikTokers who couldn’t understand any of the lyrics. These songs were appealing because of their catchiness, memeability, and the lyrics’ resemblance to words in English. The fact that someone can remix a song from a Russian cereal ad that will become so popular that it’s stuck in people’s heads around the world demonstrates the power of homespun music on TikTok where ear-catching sounds grab the attention of millions. 

Some artists and record labels appear to be catering their music to TikTok like we saw with Jason Derulo’s “Savage Love” which samples “Laxed (Siren Beat)” by Joshua Nanai, a popular sound on TikTok, or the musical transition in Chromatica that can accompany dramatic visual transitions. In other cases, the trendsetters of TikTok use songs for memes in unexpected ways, like with the “mmm this the remix” memes from the “Savage” remix or a mashup of a song about Five Nights At Freddy’s and The Fugees/Lauryn Hill’s “Killing Me Softly” for jokes about “body counts.” Trends like these reinforce the importance of music on TikTok as a tool for creativity behind the unique content that comes out of the app. 



Instagram Reels vs. TikTok 

On Aug. 5, Facebook-owned Instagram rolled out Reels, their new short form video feature, to rival TikTok. Here’s a breakdown of how the two platforms are similar and different.


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At this time, the interface isn’t user-friendly, in that Reels is truly difficult to navigate. It does not have its own home page (or separate App like IGTV or Layout), but rather, a creator must access stories to create their own Reels. A creator can access their Reels Library on their already busy profile by looking for the play button wedged between the grid and IGTV icon. Users also have the option to view other people’s Reels on the top half of their Explorer page. From my experience with Reels, it appears that users’ Explorer page algorithms also determine the content in their Reels feed. 


As of now, there isn’t much of a unique sound library, rather the Reels music catalog mirrors that of TikTok. It is filled with popular songs from the rival app. It appears that if you want to use a sound from another creator, there isn’t an option to save and store it. Rather, you can opt to use the audio that very moment and create a new “Reels.” There is an option to save an entire video. Now, finding the said saved video is a whole other task, as it is not in any of the previously mentioned Reels access points. It is actually stored with your saved posts.

The content creation process is very similar to TikTok. Creators are able to adjust the speed of their video, use a timer, and add effects, as well as curated audio from the audio library. 


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Hashtags & Growth

As of now, it seems like there isn’t much information on how to use hashtags to drive more engagement to a Reels post. Creators are able to add hashtags to the description, though it’s unclear how many. Additional hashtags can be added in the comments section, as well. Creators have the option to include Reels on their main profile, too.

Reels launched five days after President Trump said he planned to ban TikTok due to the Chinese-owned app’s ability to collect data on American users. On Aug. 6, Trump signed an executive order requiring all Americans to cease “business” with the app in 45 days. In a statement, TikTok said they were “shocked” by the news and plan to take legal action against the president’s order over suppression of free expression.