How to feature a TikToker in an ad, starring Khaby Lame

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Hugo Boss

· 3 min read

The brand spokespeople of yesteryear came from all the fame avenues you’d expect. Pro athletes, actors, and fictional Nascar drivers smiled alongside products for TV commercials and print ads, selling us normal folk on those brands’ dreams.

This is 2022, though. YouTubers, TikTokers, and social media stars are the new celebrities. Dancing can get you your own Dunkin’ drink. Staring and shrugging earns you a Hugo Boss line…and 149.5 million TikToker followers.

That’s where today’s lesson comes from, actually: Khaby Lame’s new TikTok ad for Hugo Boss. It’s a perfect example of a creator-led social advertisement. Let’s break it down.

Face forward

This is the very first frame of the Boss ad.

That’s Khaby Lame for ya. The 22-year-old TikTok star has made a living from silently poking fun at ridiculous life-hack content. You’re reading a newsletter, but if you were scrolling TikTok, you’d definitely recognize his signature look.

Sure, it may feel like we’re just observing a spacey stare, but a handful of social advertising best practices are perfect in this piece.

  • You want a human face right up front, because “YouTube Face” isn’t just for YouTube.
  • You only get three seconds to hook a viewer, and the most-followed TikToker of all time is a helluva hook.
  • The introduction feels like content, not an ad. If you’ve got a longer message to get across, you’ll need to bury that hook deep—anyone scrolling here will think they’re about to watch the latest KhabyTok, not an ad.

Go for the laugh

David Ogilvy wasn’t around for TikTok, but he’s got a quote about concepts that’s essential to modern social advertising. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby

This is an ad for the new Boss performance styles with “smart-dry technology,” which seems like a fancy way to say the clothes dry quickly.

What’s the funniest way to show off an overly branded, jargony product feature?

Easy. Have a TikToker dump water on the model, then use a tiny hairdryer to get a quick dry.

This is TikTok. If you wanna get your ad watched the whole way through, you better have a great gag that’s visually entertaining enough to elicit a reaction.

Clean, readable branding

Okay, it’s not nearly as fun to talk about the brand mechanics as creator gags, but product sales pay the bills.

The Hugo Boss brand’s big bold text naturally lends itself to social media-friendly word overlays. Big, bold letters appear on-screen intermittently within the ad, visible enough that you can’t miss ’em without getting in the way of the ad’s storyline.

Love that they held Khaby’s signature move for the finale. Slap that logo alongside the punchline, get all the laughs and all the love. Remember: Fans like when notable brands sponsor their favorite creators, so this prestige moment will drive true cheers.

Simple math

Maybe what I like most about this Boss TikTok spot: It’s a reminder to focus on the fundamentals even if you have a budget. It’s a familiar face running a humorous gag with clear product benefits. It’s the same 1-2-3 of most of my favorite commercials, especially my all-timer: Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk.” Just because you’ve hired a next-gen celeb doesn’t mean ya leave behind what works.

A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby