Adobe's perfect & charming TikTok series

Story first, product second.

I’m always excited to write about great TikToks from brands because, well… most brands aren’t exactly nailing TikTok. The content’s too producty, or too insidery for an interest-graph social network, or the brand’s just not on TikTok at all.

Can’t say the same for Adobe. I came across their TikTok totally organically, scrolling the For You Page, probably while procrastinating on writing a newsletter. Considering it earned 4 million views, I’m clearly not the only one who loved it

Let’s dive into Adobe’s fantastic content series and why it’s perfect for TikTok.

Here’s your sign

I could excitedly describe a TikTok to you, or we could just watch it together. Click that play button—we’ll start digging in once you’ve wrapped.


The ending had us like 🥲 @cool_lookin_bug #RandomActsOfKindness #PosterDesign #AdobePhotoshop

I need an actual bulleted list to get through all the reasons I love it.

  • It’s story first, product second

  • It’s creator made, shared on the brand + creator pages

  • It shows the product within a human use case

  • It’s a repeatable series I’d gladly watch again

  • The core idea is wonderfully charming

  • The upfront hook is very relatable

I could keep going, but should probably dig into some of these individual points.

Story first, product second

If you want to win on social in 2023, you need to appeal to human emotion. Don’t just promote your product and its features—contextualize them with a regular joe use case.

“Here’s how to make a sign in Photoshop” would’ve flopped hard, but “redesigning signs in New York City without anyone asking me to” went viral. The content accomplishes the same task, showing how Photoshop can design posters, but the published version shares a relatable moment. We’ve all seen those terrible telephone pole garage signs, we’ve all made those signs, and we’ve all wished we were more creative.

Note that the 51 second video doesn’t mention show an Adobe product for 14 seconds, and doesn’t even say the word Adobe. You don’t have to cram the brand down someone’s throat—everyone can see who posted the video!

Creator made, creator promoted

Most brand social content is either made by in-house creatives or an advertising agency, but there’s a great new trend emerging: creator-made brand content. Why hire a grumpy 20-year-vet agency creative director when you can hire a chipper 20-year-old TikToker who’s got farrr more platform success?

Check the caption of the Adobe TikTok—you’ll notice @cool_lookin_bug is tagged. He’s an NYC artist with 314,000 TikTok followers of his own. He’s also the creator who made Adobe’s TikTok, hired by kvell, a social agency hired by Adobe. It’s no surprise that creator-led content put up big numbers here.

Even better—it looks like Adobe/kvell worked out a deal where Cool Lookin Bug posts the same content to his own TikTok. So for one agreement, Adobe got original content that’s true to TikTok + influencer content, exposing them to a new audience. That’s real content + budget efficiency.

Series thinking

Good ideas can get you TikTok views and engagement, but if you want someone clicking the follow button, you’ve gotta give them a reason to return. The best way to build repeat viewers: make a repeatable content series.

Adobe got the dream reaction when Man With A Van went viral: a user commented with “I need this to be a series.” That allowed Adobe to use TikTok’s “Reply with video” feature to add a user comment to their next sign video—a double whammy, confirming to the audience there’s more to come and showing the brand reads their comments.


Replying to @senpaio6 You asked, we delivered...What should @cool_lookin_bug redesign next?! 👇 #RandomActsOfKindness #PosterRedesign #Fly... See more

I’d certainly join this band.

My only tweak: Adobe should lean into this. Every post from the series has gone viral—they should hire Cool Looking Bug and/or additional creators to increase the frequency of this idea. Currently it goes up seemingly once a month—this should be weekly, if not daily until the juice runs out. Diversifying your content is overrated, especially when you’ve got a hit on your hands.