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How MullenLowe’s JFK TikTok Sound Is Inspiring Gen Z



Creatives at MullenLowe discuss creating the first-ever remix of JFK’s famous ‘Moonshot’ speech and the president’s legacy 60 years on, writes LBB’s Ben Conway

How MullenLowe’s JFK TikTok Sound Is Inspiring Gen Z

It’s been six decades since president John F. Kennedy broadcast the speech that would inspire and define a generation. Declaring “We choose to go to the moon”, JFK rallied Americans to dream bigger than ever before, in the face of uncertainty - a message that the JFK Library Foundation wants to preserve and share in 2022 with a new generation that has likely never heard the ‘Moonshot’ speech.

For the first time ever, the speech has been remixed and turned into a digital track which can be shared on social media platforms including TikTok and Instagram reels. Created by the team at MullenLowe US, alongside Good Ear Music Supervision and Safari Riot, the campaign uses influencers in a variety of spaces to continue the legacy of JFK and the speech, asking “How will you choose to change the world?”.

To discuss how the project came about, the responsibility of using such an iconic speech and following JFK’s ‘dream big’ advice, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with the creative team at MullenLowe, including group creative director John Wolfarth,  social and digital creative lead, Dustin Johnson, SVP and social strategy lead, Meg Riley, and VP, account director, Sara Vater.

LBB> Where did the initial creative spark for this campaign come from? What was the brief like?

John> The ask was simple – use the 60th anniversary of the ‘Moonshot’ speech to drive buzz and relevance of Kennedy’s legacy. Yet the creative possibilities were huge. We knew there was an entire generation - gen z - with little knowledge of Kennedy’s speech. And we realised, like Kennedy, they were committed to social change and not afraid to declare their goals. That’s when it hit us – we’d use his voice to inspire their voice. 

Dustin> This is our first project with the JFK Library Foundation. When they asked us to build a campaign around one of America’s most inspiring speeches, it was both thrilling and humbling. By sharing it with a new generation, we had the opportunity to connect a voice from the past with the promise of the future. 

LBB> Why was the ‘Moonshot speech’ selected? How did it influence the rest of the campaign?

John> The speech itself was the centre of the assignment and the core of the idea. And his most famous line: “We choose to go to the moon,” became both the campaign name (‘We Choose 2’) and our rallying cry. 60 years ago, he asked Americans to dream big and do things “because they were hard.”  This campaign asks the same question: “How will you choose to change the world?” The message is as relevant today as it was then.

LBB> How did you feel working with audio from JFK? He is a powerful American symbol and a big part of American history - are there high expectations when using this speech?

Sara Vater> This is the first time the client and the Kennedy family have authorised any sort of remixing or reinterpretation of the ‘Moonshot’ speech. So, working with the original audio was intimidating at first. Yet we knew it held the true power of the moment we were celebrating. Kennedy knew achieving your goals starts with declaring them.

LBB> Why did you choose TikTok as a primary driver in this campaign? What is the process of getting the remixed speech onto TikTok and getting influencers involved?

Meg> We wanted to introduce gen z to the power in Kennedy’s speech, and TikTok is arguably where they spend a lot of their time. It also has a tremendous amount of creative potential. To tap that, we identified influential content creators based on their audience makeup, and their expertise (science, education, technology etc.) and asked them to express how JFK’s speech resonated with them. The execution was up to them. To us, that’s the power of creator partnerships – letting their voice guide the content.

John> The remixed speech is the cornerstone of the campaign. It even had its own creative brief that identified the quotes we wanted to highlight and the vibe we were going for. As part of that, we studied the characteristics and properties of trending sounds on TikTok. We then gave the brief to Good Ear Music Supervision (GEMS) and they helped us identify artists and collaborators with both the right sound and a strong social following. Once we were connected with Safari Riot, we knew we were on to something. The resulting track has that old/new vibe we were seeking, not to mention an incredible earworm. 

LBB> Describe the accompanying digital experience for us! How does it engage viewers that have clicked through from TikTok? And how was it designed to share JFK’s legacy in the clearest and most engaging way?

Dustin> The digital experience is a companion piece to the social effort and the remixed track. The three pieces work together, each feeding the other, and was designed and built by our in-house content and tech team. It’s a great resource for those who want to hear more of the speech, learn how Kennedy’s bold choices made a lasting impact, and most importantly, get inspired through a gallery of posts from other participants. We nicknamed it our ‘command centre’.

Meg> Our objective was not necessarily to drive to the digital experience, rather we wanted to use that as a hub to educate a new generation on JFK’s impact. The selected creators, the branding visuals and the music were all designed to be scroll-stopping. We wanted creators to share their stories and inspire others to do the same. It’s a big - but meaningful - ask. Sharing how you can make a difference and getting scale behind those stories was our real goal

LBB> The campaign expands beyond TikTok - can you talk to us about creating the social posts, OOH posters and the ‘We Choose 2’ merchandise? Why are these elements important and effective?

John> The client has an active social presence, and we wanted to use those platforms to help announce and amplify the campaign. So, we’ve created more than two dozen different pieces of content that will go live throughout the effort. And while ‘We Choose 2’ is social-centric, we also wanted it to live in the physical world. We placed digital OOH in high-traffic areas frequented by gen z (college campuses) and produced shirts and bags so people could declare their participation. Analogue elements like those help ideas become more grounded and less transient.

The entire visual vocabulary of the campaign was created in-house by Arthur Daraujo (design director) and Allie Hughes (associate design director). Like the idea of ‘We Choose 2’, the look and feel is simultaneously retro and modern. The classic Kennedy black and white images ground the story, while the bright coloured, stylised sound waves reflect how his words and ideas still resonate today. The result is something both fresh and familiar. 


LBB> Do you have any data you can share with us around the success of the campaign so far?

Sara> The ‘#WeChoose2’ hashtag which appears exclusively on our content has been seen 1.4 million times in the first ten days. 

LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this project - and how did you overcome it?

John> The most challenging aspect of the project was doing something that had not been done before. From remixing a Kennedy speech to creating a UGC-centric digital experience, the campaign was filled with firsts for us and the clients. Their partnership helped move the idea forward. There were some anxious moments. Yet together, we did exactly what JFK asked us to do – dream big and go for it.

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LBB Editorial, Tue, 04 Oct 2022 16:58:00 GMT