Why Hilton’s 10 minute TikTok went viral

‘10 minutes on TikTok is like three years in the real world’. What made this trend-bucking ad hit marketing gold?

Hilton Hotels went viral on TikTok last week for producing a video that’s not only an ad, but 10 minutes long.

Alongside the iconic hotel chain heiress Paris Hilton, the video featured famous creators including Chris Olsen, GirlBossTown and KelzWright, challenging viewers to stay to the end in order to be in with a chance of winning Hilton Honors Points.

The length of the video and the Y2K socialite were enough to raise eyebrows on the platform, but does it mean that longer-form content is coming back?

The short answer is no. Part of the video’s viral fame is due to the fact that it stood out as a longer video on the short-form platform, rather than setting a new trend.

In fact, the genius of the video is that it feels like a mash-up of different videos, with different styles, filters, creators and effects making it seem like 10 minutes of seamlessly scrolling through TikTok without actually having to scroll: elevating the platform to a seamless scroll-less experience.

Bucking marketing trends and self-satire

Thomas Walters, Europe CEO and Co-founder of creator agency Billion Dollar Boy told PMW: “one of the actors in Hilton’s TikTok ad says: ‘10 minutes on TikTok is like three years in the real world’. And it certainly has felt like that in the past, as attention spans have increasingly become shorter.

“But maybe not anymore. The hotel chain’s ad bucks a long-standing trend towards short-from video content on social media. However, despite its success, initial analysis would suggest that it’s an exception to the rule rather than being indicative of a broader shift in media consumption habits towards long-form content.

“That’s because the length of the video alone – although undoubtedly helping it to stand out from other short-form content on TikTok – isn’t what makes it a success. Its success actually comes from its clever use of a combination of already tried-and-tested marketing techniques.”

The video itself comes across as incredibly authentic, a factor that 90% of millennials cited as important in brand content. The creators’ formats and duets are all produced in their own style, with some polished and well-produced sections contrasting the creator style of self-made content, all collaborating to deliver a unified brand message. 

The ad also makes constant reference to itself as an ad and the fact that audiences have wised up to brands’ promotional content.

“Its success also lies in its ability to satirise marketing,” continues Walters. “The Hilton video pokes fun at influencers’ traditionally over-promotional ad content, tapping into the ‘de-influencing’ trend on TikTok. This self-aware humour is popular because, as Baron Ryan says in the Hilton ad, “we don’t want ads on TikTok, people hate them”. It makes the ad relatable and honest which helps to support its effectiveness.”

Why do viewers stay to the end?

The other marketing tactic employed in the video is the reward incentive to watch the video at least halfway to win Hilton Honors Points. A similar marketing strategy is used by the world’s highest earning YouTuber, MrBeast, by incentivising viewers to stay to the end to either see a reward or the results of the effort he’s put into the video. 

He does this in two ways. Firstly, in his early videos he used to make mundane videos of himself counting to 100,000, taking hours. Viewers would stay to the end to see the results of his own input into the video, which deem it a worthy watch.

In his more recent videos he would reward contestants with large sums of cash for doing a task the longest, including challenges for the longest person be touching a car or to be hidden in hide and seek. In both instances, the viewer is third-party to the challenge and eager to see the end and the results of the efforts of MrBeast and his contestants.

The risky Hilton ad makes viewers want to know the answer to ‘why did Hilton make an ad this long?’ and ‘why was it worth it?’.

“While the ten minute ad is undoubtedly successful and stands out from all the other short-form content on TikTok, I don’t think it’s the start of a revolution,” states Walters.

“It has been proven that short-form content consistently continues to deliver the highest ROI, drives the best engagement rates and generates the most leads. And ultimately, that’s what will unfortunately dictate marketers’ decisions. Lessons can be learned from the Hilton ad though, that a more creative approach can out-perform proven marketing strategy. Following the ad’s success, we may see more brands seriously consider producing more long-form content in the future.”

How long can you watch for?

@hilton Unexpected & amazing things can happen when you stay, and we want you to stay with us for 10 minutes. Yup, we made a 10-minute TikTok AND we’re giving away 10M Hilton Honors Points + more. #HiltonStayFor10 #HiltonForTheStay ♬ Hilton’s 10-Minute Stay - Hilton