Starburst beams TikToks into space to engage Gen Z

    • Starburst today (Sept. 6) launched a campaign, “Ask the Universe,” that seeks to engage with a Gen Z audience on TikTok, per details shared with Marketing Dive. The effort was developed in partnership with agency DDB.
    • From today until Oct. 14, TikTok users can create a video that asks “How do they make Starburst taste so juicy?” and uses the #BeamItUpStarburst hashtag for a chance for the video to be beamed into space via a partnership with SpaceSpeak. Video creators can track where their video is traveling in space in real time via a microsite.
    • “Ask the Universe” was inspired by research that found Gen Z is the cohort most interested in space (63%, versus the U.S. average of 49%). The TikTok hashtag challenge follows the recent release of the brand’s first TV spot for its core product line since 2015.

    Starburst’s “Ask the Universe” campaign piggybacks off renewed interest in space as a way to engage with a Gen Z audience on the cohort’s preferred social platform. The Mars Wrigley brand claims its SpaceSpeak partnership will make it the first brand to beam TikToks into space — a novel way to drive participation in the hashtag challenge. 

    The six-week challenge will be accompanied by Spark Ads and sequential advertising on the platform. It also includes a partnership with astrophysicist — and influencer — Kirsten Banks (@astrokirsten), who will use her platform to announce the challenge and share tips on creating “beam-worthy” content. Teaming with a creator is one of the popular ways for brands to activate on platforms like TikTok.

    In addition to its efforts on TikTok, Starburst in early August launched its first new TV commercial for its core product line since 2015. The 15-second spot features two employees at a space center broadcasting the question “How do they make Starburst taste so juicy?” to space before cutting to two “fruit people” who are revealed as the source of the product’s juiciness. Creative will also run in online video, print, paid search and select social channels.

    Starburst is returning to TikTok after having great success on the platform last year. In August 2021, the “Little Lad” character that appeared in a 2007 ad for its Berries & Creme candies went viral on the platform. To tap into the surging interest — #berriesandcream eventually notched more than 1.2 billion views — Starburst released a Halloween costume via a TikTok contest.

    The space-focused campaign comes as other brands look to tap into hype around space exploration driven by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. While Starburst is beaming TikToks into space, brands including Miller, 7-Eleven and Ben & Jerry’s have launched physical objects into the atmosphere. In addition, the first limited-edition experimental flavor released as part of the Coca-Cola Creations initiative was a “space-flavored” cola.


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