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Fender's TikTok ad is the perfect hero video cutdown

This is how you turn a commercial into content

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It’s International Guitar Month… which I didn’t know is a thing, but we’re definitely celebrating. Some of you know I was an emo journalist before this whole advertising thing happened (it’s not a phase, mom). Seems right to feature a rippin’ guitar brand’s TikTok content to honor the occassion.

Let’s chat about:

  • How Fender made my favorite TikTok ad of all-time

  • The importance of hero video concepts translating to social

  • 3 essays on social media, community, and the future of Twitter

Fender’s new TikTok is just incredible.

I’ve always believed that brands should aspire to make social content so compelling that viewers wanna watch again and again. We shouldn’t just go for cheap laughs or basic pro-tips. We should inspire, entertain, and impress.

Boy, does Fender’s new TikTok ad do just that. Let’s have a watch.


Celebrate 70 years of the Strat with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. Head to the 🔗 in bio to watch the full perf... See more

It’s just. so. cool. It’s a perfect social ad in a world where we claim every social ad needs to be ~native~ or ~look like organic content~.

Let’s talk about the ad, the story, and why it works so well.

The Ad Campaign: The Year Of The Strat

No one guitar’s as iconic as the Fender Stratocaster. This legendary axe has been wielded by more greats than I could ever list—just know it’s Jimi Hendrix’s fav.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the guitar, Fender has launched a ripping new campaign, “The Year Of The Strat” (which is so much better than most anniversary campaign names). The ad approach has all sorts of amazing little content plays within it, but this TikTok is the star— and it’s actually a cutdown of their hero video. But we’ll get to that.

Did you recognize the riff? It’s Hendrix’s Voodoo Child, performed by bunches of the world’s best Stratocaster players and blended together for one incredible rendition. I love that you can hear each player’s unique flourishes, especially Tom Morello’s what-was-that-sound contributions.

Okay, can we watch the full version before we get to the social analysis?

A social-friendly hero concept

You know most advertising campaigns have a big-budget hero video like the above leading the charge. And if you work specifically in social, you know most of those hero spots don’t work particularly well in social—they’re not optimized for vertical, they’re wayyy too product focused, or the storytelling is too slow for our lizard brains.

What Fender nailed here—their concept is social-friendly.

  • TikTok is littered with guitar players! These are guitar players!

  • It’s an iconic song in a moment when TikTok’s lost music

  • Famous & recognizable guitarists play the piece

  • Newer guitarists like Rei have visually-interesting looks (That white dress is awesome).

  • The jump cuts are a familiar social format + keep pacing quick

  • Every shot works in both horizontal + vertical formats.

Even though it’s high-production content, it hits every social best practice you’d ever want. None of that happens unless you have a company, a commercial director, and a social team who understand how to build concepts that work in multiple creative environments.

Now someone put this on Spotify for me—I wanna make it my work music.

How can your brand make social-friendly heroes?

The answer is pretty simple: let your social pros in the room where it happens. It’s 2024—your strategic and creative teams should welcome social media thinking with open arms. Social media’s the primary distribution mechanic for ad campaigns nowadays, and you need social experts weighing in.

At every phase of the process, brands should seek social feedback. Period.

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  • Whether you're building a standalone product, growing your email list, crafting a lead magnet, or anything else, a great email course leverages tools you're already using in an algorithm-free environment.

  • Unlike newsletters, 1:1s, or cohort-based courses, an email course runs on its own, which also allows me to see my writing as a product that can be improved.

  • It is a "Build Once, Sell Twice" Asset. So it scales AND provides significantly more insight into customer engagement than a simple pdf download.

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Social Cues

There are so many social big thinkers out there, writing all kinds of amazing strategies, analysis, and breakdowns. All ships rise with the tide, so here are a few reads from other places I think you could learn from.

When NY Mag published their cover story on Andrew Huberman’s personal life, discourse broke a few different directions. As tweets debated the ethics of it all, Paul resurfaced his old essay on haters & online conversations. Brand social folks will find some familiar themes in the piece.

Sigh. Remember when Twitter tried Fleets? Well, now every social network’s trying short-form vertical videos a la TikTok. At least it’s in a separate feed?

I miss old Twitter. Now it’s seemingly a misinformation pipeline. Here’s an interesting read on measuring Twitter’s shifting tone by increased frequency of conspiracy theories on news events.