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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Making Ads That Aren’t Ads to Win with Gen Z

Finalist in TikTok Presence


Bose is renowned for its exceptional audio technology, captivating the hearts of music lovers worldwide. However, beyond this dedicated audience lies a challenge: reaching and resonating with a younger, more diverse demographic, particularly Gen Z. Kantar survey data shows that 18% of 18-24 year-olds reported being familiar with Bose in 2022 and 22% in 2023. 

Consequently, in the ever-evolving landscape of social media, TikTok has emerged as a cultural phenomenon, particularly among Gen Z users, presenting an opportunity to engage where their attention lies. However, TikTok isn't merely a platform for traditional advertising; it's a space where authenticity reigns supreme, and overt sales pitches fall flat.

Despite having a strong social presence on other channels, we knew we needed a platform-specific approach for TikTok in order to succeed. Our challenge was to integrate Bose into the TikTok landscape in a way that authentically engaged with Gen Z, capturing their attention and exposing them to Bose’s product offerings in a memorable and entertaining way.

Our goal wasn't just about gaining followers or likes; it was about fostering genuine connections and driving brand relevancy among Gen Z.


Strategy and Execution

In the heavily cluttered world of tech innovation, Bose was seeking out a way to break through the noise and to appeal to the next generation.

We embarked on a journey to create content that spoke Gen Z’s language, resonated with their interests, and ultimately made Bose a brand they could connect with on a personal level. Through creative storytelling, immersive experiences, and genuine interactions, we sought to establish Bose as more than just a technology company, but as a cultural icon within the TikTok community.

To do this, we had to rethink branded best practices and let the community set the guardrails for us. They didn’t want ads, so we created the Anti-Ad.

Our feed was dominated by content created by our cast of 'interns' that highlighted the human elements of the brand, creating a more relatable personality on the platform. We were fun, we chose not to take ourselves too seriously because this new generation sees right through the BS of advertising. As Gen Z’s most used platform of 2023, TikTok has significantly altered the type of ads this generation wants to see(3). They demand ads that entertain and fit into the content already on their feeds, meaning brands need to adapt to win their attention. Every single piece of our content was rooted in comments in our videos, or conversations happening in culture on TikTok. When people loved it, we made more of it. And then surprisingly, people started anticipating our content!

And in some of our most popular content, we…

Content Series #1: “Innovative Products”

…Poked fun at the absurdity of innovation within our own industry, we created an 'Innovative Products' TikTok content series featuring entirely fictitious products that address entirely real human struggles. Every single piece of content was rooted in comments in our videos, or conversations happening in culture on TikTok. In addition, we showed up with a self-aware tone that was authentic to the way the audience speaks to each other.

Content Series #2: “Bad Ads”

…Created intentionally terrible ads. These weren't just mildly subpar; they were deliberately awful in every aspect. From cringe-worthy acting to shoddy sound design and abysmal editing, we spared no effort to shine a spotlight on the inherent flaws to the usual approach to advertising.


Content Series #3: “Legal Pitches”

… Pulled back the curtain to reveal the chaotic behind the scenes world of our cast of “interns”. Offering an exclusive backstage pass to the creation process, we turned legal into villains, spoofed the ad-making ordeal, and teased the potential for even wilder content.

In aggregate, this content allowed us to stand out like no other tech company had on the platform. By approaching TikTok with authenticity and a deep understanding of our audience, we aimed to create a brand presence that not only captured attention but also captured hearts, ultimately positioning Bose as a brand that Gen Z not only loves but also considers a part of their lifestyle.


As a result of our TikTok presence throughout 2023, we were able to earn Bose 70.4M impressions. As we continued to foster our relationship with our fans, we grew our follower base by 70% since 2022 bringing us to a total of 387.5K followers in 2023. Additionally, we accumulated 4.42M engagements marking a 20% increase YoY as well as grew our total amount of comments by 171%. This robust volume of active engagement from our audience indicates the magnitude of the connection and community building we’ve accomplished so far.


Video for Making Ads That Aren’t Ads to Win with Gen Z

Entrant Company / Organization Name

VaynerMedia, Bose


Entry Credits