Logging on to TikTok at 9pm and the first video that greets you is a 15 second video of central Auckland mall, Commercial Bay’s account teasing the Viaduct, which geographically is only a minute away.
The caption first reads: “Viaduct girlies getting lunch at their 8 eateries”, followed by another caption;:“CB besties with over 30 eateries”. At the bottom of the post, Commercial Bay writes “How’re the O’hagans fries for the fourth time this week? @viaductharbour #precinctbeef”.
They’re fighting, playfully fighting. But with over 35k people watching. The fighting continues in the comments with the Viaduct taking a jab saying, “cute food court doggy bag hun”.
“If you’re boring, just say that,” Commercial Bay replies.
The so-called “#precinctbeef” started earlier in March, when the Auckland Viaduct account posted a TikTok, calling Commercial Bay and Britomart their enemies. Ultimately this started a war, a war with names we were not expecting and over 200,000 views across all three accounts.
Even Up&Go NZ commented saying; “I just know the marketing meetings are fun where you work”.
The beef between the Viaduct and Commercial Bay is the latest in a global fake beef trend seen on social media, it’s all about publicity, but that is the point, it “works really well”. Fake drama between two corporations is not new and has been done for a while now, with fast-food giant Wendy’s known for “roasting” other brands on Twitter since 2017.
Known to be pretend, both brands are following the popular strategy that drives personality to the brand. The joking insults sent between the brands drives engagement and identity building, challenging the next generation to get to know the brands better.
“I think that there is that key thing about being playful and fun, it just helps people feel like they are observing a private conversation between personalities, and it really helps drive businesses, like Viaduct, Commercial Bay and Britomart that struggle to have an identity and personality,” says Rachel Klaver, Marketing Strategist and owner of Identify.
She says that what the Auckland businesses are doing is not new, big brands overseas are already on the “fake beef” TikTok train. Language-learning website and mobile app, Duolingo is spearheading the trend, getting millions of views, likes and followers for bombing other TikTok accounts.
The brand is often seen dissing on Google Translate, a direct competitor of Duolingo in 15 second TikToks, or often seen making tongue and cheek videos to trending audios. However, Duolingo not only insults other brands, they encourage other brands to partake in the playful and fun conversations, making them more personable.
One TikTok shows Duolingo holding the “weekly TikTok brand meeting”, where other brands chime in on the comments to state what snack they were bringing to the meeting. Brands from Windows, Xbox, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Cinnabon and more have commented.
“It works, because it creates a personality behind the brand, it stops it from being a sales thing, so they’re actually showing their benefits, it’s showing what they do, and it is in a playful way so you don’t mind,” says Klaver.
“And this is the key thing with all platforms, particularly TikTok because it really needs to have that entertainment, playful part in there.”
Social media marketing
Over the past few years TikTok has blown up to become one of the most used social media platforms out there, beating Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. Social media brands such as YouTube and Instagram are fully aware of TikTok’s influence, immediately introducing concepts such as Reels and Shorts as direct competitors to the app’s famous 15-second video format.
Klaver says TikTok is an easy app to use, with people averaging 112 minutes a day on it. Looking at the “fake beef” between Viaduct, Commercial Bay and Britomart, each video has amassed over 10k views and is easily linked across all of their profiles, “clocking up their view minutes, which means people are going to see more of their stuff”.
“It works super well in terms of using the TikTok algorithm, it works super well in using that kind of personality side of things [and] it works super well by having something that people want to engage with and watch.”
The content the brands are creating is shareable and can be recycled across other social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Klaver adds that TikTok remains as the only platform where things can go viral easily and it “really resonates”, meaning creators can “gain tens, hundreds, millions of followers almost overnight”.
“However you don’t need to go viral to have an effective marketing strategy on TikTok,” Klaver says. Adding that TikTok remains as one of the most engaging communities out of all.
In terms of the future of TikTok in New Zealand, “it’s got a huge future”. Klaver says she wants to see more New Zealand brands making use of the social media platform to engage with audiences.
At the moment, she still sees New Zealand brands using TikTok like it is just another social media platform, not looking at the bigger picture of the app. “Really, only 20 percent should be promotional and 80 percent that kind of fun play, that’s engaging, educational and motivational or a bit of getting to know behind the scenes,” she says.
Though it may just be another app for Gen Z kids, the ultimate takeaway of using the app is far more than a 12-year-old’s reaction to it. Learning from the Viaduct and Commercial Bay “#precinctbeef”, I’d say we could expect an uptake in big New Zealand brands using the app to create fake beef, maybe even a fight between Z and Gull?
But in the meantime, we’re just going to have to wait and see who comes out on top in this battle between the Auckland Harbour “it spots”.