From TikTok to TV: Little Moons’ CMO on social media success and effective TV ads

It’s 2021. A global pandemic is continuing to ruin everyone’s year. The UK is in and out of lockdown. No-one knows what Tier 3 means anymore. Mochi ice cream company Little Moons is going viral on TikTok.

A Tesco customer makes a TikTok about her experience of trying the product for the first time. It receives a whopping 300 million views and causes a sales increase of 700%. Soon after #LittleMoons has 150 million views, #LittleMoonsMochi has 107 million and the fruity ice cream balls wrapped in chewy rice flour dough are taking the world by storm.

Back in 2022, the pandemic has (largely) abated but Little Moons has continued with its impressive growth trajectory. Around 15,000 videos have been made about the Mochi ice cream balls and the company boasts 250,000 TikTok followers, which makes it an influencer in its own right.

Last week, IPG-owned Mediahub UK announced the launch of a collaboration between Little Moons and Channel 4, in what is set to be the brand’s first-ever TV partnership.

Fronted by Derry Girls star Saoirse-Monica Jackson, the 30-second TV spot uses the wry comedic personality and stylish look of the actor to transport viewers into fantastical land filled with Little Moons.

Is this a self-aware campaign and fitting Channel 4 partnership or a step away from TikTok’s influence? Must all viral trends on social media come to an end? Or is there a way to keep them going through TV advertising?

We talk to Little Moons’ marketing director Ross Farquhar to find out more.

Why make a Channel 4 campaign with a Derry Girls star?

According to Farquhar it’s simple – he says that Channel 4 talks to the same demographic as Little Moons; that the brands are reaching out to people with the same attitude.

“Little Moons ultimately appeals to slightly younger consumers with relatively high disposable incomes who like to treat themselves, which aligns with Channel Four’s ‘altogether different’ ethos.”

“With regards to the channel and its viewers, there’s this idea of having a slightly different mindset. I think this really reflects Little Moons’ values, as we talk about our ice cream being from other worlds.”

Farquhar, with his 17 years of industry experience, added that despite the brand’s TikTok success its biggest challenge is being discovered.

“The majority of the people who we think would enjoy Little Moons still haven’t heard of us. Even though our company is 12 years old, we’re still relatively new in people’s minds. Every time we do campaigns we see it as our opportunity to make a good first impression on millions of people who aren’t familiar with the brand.”

READ MORE: Little Moons taps Derry Girls star for Channel 4 spot

The marketing director believes that Little Moons’ latest campaign is a subtle and noninvasive invitation for people to try the brand’s “bite-sized, portion-controlled and artisanal” products.

“When you make a TV spot, you are going into someone’s living room, having not necessarily been invited in. You have a responsibility to be good company and be an entertaining house-guest,” he says.

“You cannot just shout and be invasive and intrusive, because as a marketer you have a real responsibility to get an emotional and positive response from people… to draw a smile.”

Saoirse-Monica Jackson definitely entertains a variation of audiences in the amusing and self-aware Channel 4 TV spot. According to Farquhar, the main reason Little Moons collaborated with the network was to gain access to its connections, talent and production capabilities.

“We felt that the TV spot we made was authentic and genuine,” he says.

“Whether I’ve seen Derry Girls or not, I feel like I know Saoirse. She’s the perfect fit because she clearly identifies as Channel 4 and she’s on such an upward trend with so much momentum. She’s also a brilliant example of who we think the Little Moons consumer is; more female than male, very style-conscious, and someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.”

When asked what the response had been like so far, the marketing director pointed to the fact that you only see the effects of a TV campaign months afterwards.

“I can only tell you anecdotally that we’ve had nothing but glowing feedback. People have had the exact reaction we wanted – ‘Oh my God is that Erin from Derry Girls?’ She’s clearly recognisable to our audience and she embodies everything we stand for.”

Is this TV campaign a step away from TikTok?

“It’s another string to our bow,” Farquhar answered plainly.

“We are still investing in paid advertising and content creation on TikTok and we’re not changing our approach as we were so successful last year for a multitude of different reasons.”

Farquhar stressed that the company must continue to harness the “love and advocacy” of a younger generation on TikTok and avoid approaching campaigns like a “big corporate advertiser.”

“Our TikTok fame was started by a girl who didn’t have a huge follower account and wasn’t leading this Instagram influencer curated lifestyle we often see. She just created some quite interesting funny content.

“This is why I love the app… because you can gain success as a creator based on your talent, rather than necessarily your aesthetic, lifestyle choices, or virality.

“TikTok entertains people through its authenticity, rather than just showcasing perfect pristine visions of who people think they are.”

little moons

READ MORE: Google, TikTok and Tesco join UK advertisers’ workplace diversity initiative

The marketing director added that Little Moons’ social media team are in touch with “every single trending track and trend” and are constantly thinking of ways to “put a twist on things”.

“We’re going to continue our work on TikTok, but at the same time, we also need to bring in a huge swathe of people of all different demographics, often a little bit older and with a little bit of a higher income to be buying this product eventually.”

When asked whether all trends must come to an end, like that of Little Moons’ online success during pandemic, Farquhar responded that marketers must not get hung up on trying to make history repeat itself.

“If we had just kept trying to go viral again, it would have been a bit foolhardy. We didn’t rest on our laurels and I think by doing that, it stopped us being a fad. It made us capitalise on the opportunity to be a genuinely new way of eating ice cream.”

“We have invested in a broader range of channels at a much higher level, to get into a lot more places. As a result, we are now listed in pretty much every major grocer in the UK and are rapidly expanding internationally.”

The marketing director believes that Little Moons is far more than a trend and rather a product that moves beyond an ice cream category he describes as being “stuck in the same formats for decades.”

Any future campaigns in the mix?

“I certainly hope that this is the start of a long-running partnership with Channel 4 because I don’t think it’s just a skin-deep thing,” Farquhar says.

“We are also the headline partner of Luna Cinema this summer, the UK’s biggest outdoor cinema, which will see us at screenings nationwide with huge amounts of branding and plenty of Mochi ice cream to try.”

“In general, we’re trying to pop up absolutely everywhere that you can try and find us and we have lots more to come.”

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