ASOS has been a trailblazer since it was founded in London 21 years ago. It pioneered online shopping for fashion, the blending of content and commerce, leveraging social media and influencers on Instagram and now it's got its sights firmly set on TikTok.
Last year the business was one of the first to launch a branded hashtag challenge on TikTok, the short-form video channel that came into its own during the pandemic, and ASOS brand creative director John Mooney says there is another exciting campaign in the works.
The #AySauce campaign of last year was a play on TikTok terminology and the various ways people pronounce the ASOS name. A bespoke soundtrack was conceived and the etailer worked with leading TikTok creators in the UK and US to launch the campaign but the big pay-off came when organic creators on the platform, where ASOS has amassed almost 600,000 followers (it has 12 million on Instagram), hacked the campaign and sent it viral. The "drip, drip" soundtrack took off and videos were posted of fans of the brand singing it in the street.
Speaking to TheIndustry.fashion's Influencer Marketing: Levelling up for Success podcast, produced in partnership with TribeDynamics, Mooney talked about why TikTok and ASOS are the perfect match. "We will have a set creative pretence for a campaign but we like to see how will the organic creator audience hack our campaign and do strange and wonderful things with it. If you can’t embrace that and you are too rigid with the guidelines for your brand then TIkTok isn’t the place to be because people want to just want to do all kinds of crazy stuff with your content," he said.
ASOS is constantly reviewing the roster of talent that it works with on social media but Mooney explained that for TikTok it pays to use native creators, who understand how to get the most out of the platform where creativity (and not necessarily popularity) is rewarded with greater reach.
"TikTok is not as simple as posting a piece of content, you’ve got to be skillful at using all of the TikTok transitions and filters and you need to understand audio and music all that bit more, and the trends are that bit more prominent as well, such as the hashtag challenges that are coming through. The general organic creators that exist on the platform have to be very savvy, they are very skilled, they are borderline marketers themselves in the way they do things," he says.
While influencer marketing has been key to ASOS's success, the process of choosing partners across all social platforms is highly strategic and is not based on how many followers an influencer might have but rather the quality of their content and their values.
"Influencer marketing had a moment had a moment and it's still there, but we generally use terminology in-house that is more focused on talent and creators. We don’t want people that have this vacuous existence where we throw them a parcel and hope that’s a hook and an incentive for their followers to come to ASOS. We need to be in a position whereby we believe that the values of the talent are aligned to ASOS’s purpose and the mission of our brand," he explains.
It is crucial for ASOS that whatever content the talent creates is "believable" when it sits on ASOS's channels and that the audience watching will have an affinity with the talent. In addition, it needs to be sure its collaborators represent the diversity and inclusivity that that brand holds dear.
"We have an in-house talent team that are constantly trying to bring interesting new talent to the table and we’ve always been pushing the agenda from a diversity and inclusivity agenda. But we also need to make sure that’s a lens we put on everything we do, whether that’s a diversity lens linked to ethnicity, whether it’s to do with sexuality, whether it’s to do with shape and size, it’s multi-faceted. I’d like to think that we do a good job. We are a brand that is for everyone and we like the fact that we try to welcome everyone in," Mooney says.
Mooney heads up a 100-strong team at ASOS HQ who are charged with commissioning and creating content across its social and digital marketing channels, as well as its website. The team effectively act as an in-house creative agency for the business and are charged with pushing brand messaging, increasing sales, driving following and engagement.
"We have a 100-strong team on this on a daily basis," he says. "If you’re an outsider and you look in at ASOS and you see ASOS as the social media channels and the platform that sells clothes, it’s really hard to determine how many people it takes to keep that up and running, but the reality is that in our head office in central London there are two and a half thousand people working on this. The tech team is 1,000 people, the retail team is around 1,000 people – it’s big. It’s a big infrastructure because technically it takes a lot of time to make sure everything stands up, everything works, and it takes a lot of time to develop the product we have on-site. We have about 100,000 products live at any one point.”
To hear more from John Mooney and gain more insights into ASOS's social media strategy, listen to the podcast here.
TribeDynamics has produced a vital guide entitled How To Measure Influencer Marketing Success to accompany the podcast series. You can download your free copy here.