For young people these days, tattoos are no longer taboo. So one might think that Inkbox, the DTC, temporary tattoo brand offering tattoos that last 1-2 weeks, would be a hot commodity. But even with professionally-crafted designs, freehand markers, custom creation capabilities, and an aesthetic that looks like real ink, they were running into a problem.
Some people viewed them as something for posers, afraid to get the real thing. Others saw them as the perfect way to test-drive the designs and placements of future permanent tattoos, but after they were done, they moved on from the brand. The result was trepidatious trial and low loyalty.
The mission was clear: Inkbox tattoos needed their own use case. Something young people would be proud to show off, unembarrassed as they faded, and something they wanted to use over and over again regardless of whether or not they ever wanted a permanent tattoo.
We noticed that similar style choices like nail art or piercings are celebrated as enhancing self-expression and confidence. Why not Inkbox tattoos? The truth is: quality temporary tattoos have just as much power in transforming your identity. To reframe how people saw and used temporary ink, we had to get people to experiment with it—not as a training wheel for a real tattoo, but rather as a tool to explore identity. We wanted to turn the product into a fashion-accessory. And, importantly, in order to influence culture, we had to create it.
We turned to an emotion we’re all familiar with—feeling like the main character. Perfectly articulated by the internet, it means becoming the protagonist in your own life. It’s advocating for yourself and standing confidently in your identity, and doing it all with a presumed audience. And what could be more ‘main character’ than actually being the star?
Big Ink Energy is the full-length music video that celebrates a transformative, main character confidence found with Inkbox tattoos. It told the story of our hero’s experimentation with ink, and how it led to newfound fearlessness and fluid self-expression. It showed her breaking out of her comfort zone and radiating an undeniable swagger. And it demonstrated how ink as an accessory can be the vessel to a stronger self.
‘Quiet on Set’, performed by the unapologetic Remi Wolf, became our hero’s anthem. The beat is the perfect dance party rhythm that practically begs for a strut down the runway. The lyrics are bold and reckless, and reflect a time in Remi’s life when feeling down empowered her to focus on the less serious side of life. The song oozes power and excitement, and musically tells the story of what adding a little fun in your life can do.
And what’s a song without a dance? We enlisted choreographer Mariana Benenge to bring the movement of B.I.E. to life. Co-Director Lesly Lynch explains that “we wanted to create choreography that was inspirational and could become a TikTok move, so naturally Mariana immediately came to mind. It was her energy, how she moves and her values that drew us to her. She participates in Voguing Balls, practices Waacking, and is very active in the LGBTQIA+ community. She found the perfect moves for ‘Quiet on Set’ and created a playground of expression, allowing everybody to move within. The energy on set the day of the club scene was on fire—it was truly refreshing to see.”
The TikTok-inspired choreography highlighted the lyrics of the song and showed off the tattoos. We coined moves like the ‘The Mop’ that harkened back to finding fun in boredom and the ‘The Shh’ that silenced any remaining ounces of self-doubt. And when forearms and elbows dragged downward, we got a glimpse at the ink that made it all possible. The dances were organic to the story, and in partnership with the song, went on to inspire audiences online to experiment with ink themselves.
While the Big Ink Energy music video alone earned over 1.2M views on YouTube, we knew that shifting perception and behavior would require an integrated campaign with interactive elements. With :30, :15 and :06 cutdowns of our hero character, four cutdowns of our side characters, GIFs, social content, and more, our music video became a creative success in evoking the emotional benefits of accessorizing with temporary tattoos. But as we took the song and dance to TikTok, we saw an even bigger impact. Our TikTok hashtag challenge that used the choreography from the video earned a total of 10.3B views and 65.7M shares. We also created a TikTok filter that allowed people to cycle through different tattoo styles and themes. By giving our audience a digital tattoo exploration, they made videos of their own—2.6M videos, in fact. That’s 2.6M people who digitally “tried on” the product, vibed as the main character, and recreated the dance!
What started as a music video soon became a trend. People were shifting their use of Inkbox from trial product to identity experimentation, further solidifying ourselves as a fashion accessory. And we went from just selling temporary tattoos to finding a permanent place in culture.