On New Year’s Day of 2021, Ratatouille the Musical premiered for the first time ever in the form of a 72-hour long livestream on the platform where it first started coming to life: TikTok.

It all began when Emily Jacobsen, a schoolteacher and Disney fiend, posted a TikTok of her singing an ode to Remy the Rat, whom you might know as the main character of the 2007 Disney/Pixar film, Ratatouille. The mini-song gained traction when TikTok-famous user Brittany Broski, with her 6 million followers, used the audio from Jacobsen’s post in one of her own TikToks. The song was then picked up by composer Daniel Mertzlufft, recognised for his past musical compositions on the app, who built on the song with his production skills.

But that’s not all: the simple less-than-60-second-long video sparked a creative wildfire, inspiring all sorts of creators, from theatre students and choreographers to set designers and songwriters, to contribute to the project in so many different ways.

The thing is, Ratatouille the Musical wasn’t just a trend – it was actually picked up by a production company and turned into a real virtual musical starring popular actors such as Tituss Burgess (from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Kevin Chamberlin (from the Disney Channel series Jessie and his past theatre work that earned him 3 Tony Award nominations). The musical was aired as a benefit with the aim of raising money for The Actors Fund and generated over 2 MILLION dollars in donations.

Ratatouille the Musical isn’t the only TikTok musical to grace the screens of users all around the world – more recently, The Bridgerton Musical took the Internet by storm, lead by Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear who have turned the extremely popular Netflix series into carefully crafted musical numbers, inspiring other users to come up with choreography for the project among other things. 

From this entire bizarre yet spectacular series of events, it was astoundingly clear how social media platforms, TikTok in particular, have enabled a whole new level of collaboration between people from all over the world who share similar interests, allowing them to build on one another’s strengths and create incredible outcomes such as a full-on virtual benefit musical.

On that note, what are some simple ways your brand can build on this?

     1. Invite your audience to create!

Your consumers can offer your brand so much if given the chance! With a plethora of content forms at your fingertips, you can involve your audience in such a huge variety of ways!

For starters, you could hold a contest and get your audience involved that way by offering them incentives for their participation as well! An example of a brand that has successfully pulled this off is IKEA with its adorable IKEA Family Soft Toy Drawing Competition.

Source: IKEA

The nearly 8-year-old annual contest invites children of IKEA Family members to freely design a soft toy. The designs are collected and then go through numerous rounds of shortlisting till a number of designs are officially selected to be turned into SAGOSKATT soft toys sold at IKEA. The proceeds from these toys are then donated to local initiatives focused on children’s welfare.

From this contest, IKEA is able to literally generate thousands of soft toy designs that melt people’s hearts and that also go towards a good cause! Talk about killing two birds with one stone. And that’s exactly how your brand can benefit from leveraging on the creativity of users and consumers!

Mercedes-Benz even jumped on the bandwagon with its #MBStarChallenge, which involved TikTok users by inviting them to recreate the renowned Mercedes-Benz Star in their own creative ways. People got busy painting, ice-skating, and so much more. The campaign generated more than 2.24 million views, with the best entries being featured on the brand’s own channels.

Reaching out to your consumers this way allows you to benefit from your audience’s input and ideas that come from their unique perspectives as consumers, and it also helps to show them that you care about hearing from them!

     2. Boost your consumer’s creations

Put your audience’s work out there! It goes a long way to give them the extra boost and publicly show your support for the work they have done in relation to your brand by reposting it or commenting on it to share your appreciation with them.

Take, for example, Netflix’s reaction to the Bridgerton Musical: the brand took to Twitter to commend two of their fans on their performance of one of the musical numbers.

Source: Twitter

And this definitely pleased the two creators, with both of them retweeting Netflix’s response, surprised and happy with the attention their work had garnered.

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

For a brand as big as Netflix with such a big following (10.6 million followers on Twitter!) to take the time and opportunity to uplift creators this way makes a big difference to smaller creators and the like in getting their work noticed and appreciated by others!

Publicly empowering the creators among your audience is just another way that you can build on your consumers’ creativity and show them your support and a vote of confidence as well, building a positive brand-consumer relationship where each party is able to lift each other up frequently!

     3. Connect with the creators in your audience!

Looking for a new design, or perhaps a new tagline? Why not make it an engaging activity and reach out to your audience for their input on the matter?

Take a leaf out of Pewdiepie’s book. The YouTube personality reached out to the creators in his audience to get in on the fun when he was planning for his upcoming music video, asking for them to contribute designs and props to be used in the video if they were interested in doing so.

This “Samurai Melon Helmet” created by Reddit user /Quinn_Faust is just one of the many, many creations that fans came up with for this project, and look at the skill, talent and level of detail that went into it! Bear in mind that this extent of creativity came from Pewdiepie merely extending an invitation to fans to create alongside him.

Source: Reddit

Pewdiepie reacted to the creation in one of his videos, clearly impressed by it, and is even allegedly using it for his unreleased music video, adding extra validation to the creator’s already incredible work that has garnered a considerable amount of attention on Reddit.

The bottom line is that you might already have a huge pool of untapped potential to benefit from at your fingertips, and working with them allows you to benefit from their work while uplifting your audience’s work and validating the effort they put into supporting your brand!

At the end of the day, collaboration goes a long way in forging stronger bonds between you and your consumers and also presents both you and your audience with much to be gained. It’s also important to remember that if you genuinely show interest in working with your audience and believe in what they have to offer, they will be more likely to feel that energy and return it in kind with their skills and more. After all, passion drives passion!


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Hero image: The Verge