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Just Add 'A Sprinkle Of Chaos': How Paramount and Netflix Talk to Gen Z on TikTok

Executives from both major streamers, as well as creators, shared their tips for racking up billions of views on the app.


Sometimes TikTok is about a little chaos.

Mark Von Holden / Contributor / Getty Images
Jonathan Helfgot of Netflix, Khartoon Weiss of TikTok, and Danielle De Palma of Paramount Pictures at Variety's TikTok Culture Catalysts Dinner.

Executives from Paramount and Netflix shared advice on how to connect with Gen Z and talk TikTok on the app at a dinner on Tuesday hosted by Variety and TikTok, the outlet reported.

Here are some takeaways from the conversation for brands and entrepreneurs.

'You've Got to Sprinkle a Little Chaos on It'

The key to Tiktok is embracing a certain vibe, said Jonathan Helfgot, vice president of film marketing at Netflix, who discussed how they promoted "The Gray Man."

Related: 3 Ways TikTok Can Help Your Business Grow

The action movie, which was released in July, clocked in as one of Netflix's most-watched movies of all time and was part of a viral social strategy that had 430 million views on TikTok.

"You can't just take this thing that you're going to put somewhere else and put it on TikTok," Helfgot advised.

"You've got to sprinkle a little chaos on it," he added, a term he said he heard from an executive in Netflix's social media department.

Helfgot also said brands need to provide "a little bit more personality," in TikTok content.

Embrace creativity, scroll endlessly

Paramount had successful marketing run on TikTok with its May movie "Top Gun: Maverick," as per Khartoon Weiss, TikTok's global head of agency and accounts.

The hashtag TopGunMode, where people joke about being in "top gun mode" after something good happens or make videos of themselves in planes, has over 13 billion views.

Danielle De Palma, executive vice president of global marketing at Paramount, said the company tried to build a connection to "Top Gun" with younger people who had maybe not heard of it, especially by showing off stars who were not Tom Cruise. The hashtag also had paid partnerships with multiple high-profile TikTokers.

De Palma talked about connecting with the ethos of the app — and embracing the enormous change it has wrought on marketing.

"I do think we've seen a pretty seismic shift with the proliferation of TikTok over the last couple of years… I think it's changing the way that we're cutting creative. It's changing the way that we're working with creators," De Palma said.

"I feel like we're constantly on the platform to see how people are expressing themselves," she added.

Hang with the experts

You can also leverage communities already thriving on the app. Helfgot said they promoted "The Gray Man" by engaging with the people in the popular #filmtok community.

Many communities on the app have the name of their focus with "tok" on the end, (i.e. #witchtok) and at least some of them are becoming highly influential.

The New York Times wrote about #booktok's influence on the publishing industry in July.

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