Companies have been trying to go viral on TikTok, and it’s giving millennial cringe

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Apr 8, 2023 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

In 2019, ‘Ok Boomer’ became the saying of the century, symbolising the generational divide between gen Zers and not only gen X but also millennials. Now, in a time when TikTok is king, companies are desperately trying to stay ‘relevant’ by participating in as many trends as physically possible. And the results have been… interesting.

Getting creative with online content is nothing new, brands have been desperately trying to keep on top of gen Z TikTok sounds, gags and inside jokes for quite some time now. Recently, however, it’s become evident that every single media agency, marketing firm, and even consultancy company is dead set on becoming the next overnight trending sensation—jumping on every viral audio clip and trying to join in on the fun.

And without being overly harsh or judgmental, you can really tell some of these videos have been made by corporate individuals who don’t fully grasp the unsaid rules of the video-sharing app and who’re maybe a tad less socially native than us chronically online gen Zers.

Some of my favourite videos—and by ‘favourite’, I mean the most cringe—involve very stale and unentertaining clips paired with incredibly unrelated and bizarre music. There is a severe lack of awareness from brands desperately trying to fit in. Take for example this high-key embarrassing TikTok from company Oilshore (not entirely sure why they have an account in the first place). While the topic “asking my co-workers about their office icks” is an inherently gen Z trend, the execution just isn’t quite there.

@oilshore

Rodney strikes again with the boomer questions 😐 #work #office #corporatetiktok #worktiktok #officetiktok #boss #manager #officeicks #icks #corporateicks

♬ Just a Cloud Away - Pharrell Williams

Next up is Hurr, a fashion rental company. Although it definitely has a less awkward approach to content than Oilshore—the company’s videos are up to date with current trends and you can evidently see that the median staff age is around the mid 20s to early 30s bracket—all of Hurr’s TikTok are seriously lacking in originality. Taking advantage of every single viral audio can only get you so far.

@hurr

What are your email icks? 😷 Inspo from @tribera #officehumour #marketinggirlies #sideeye #bombasticsideeye #trend #trending #officelife #officehumor #funny #icks #ick

♬ Bombastic Side Eye Criminal Offensive Side Eye - CasaDi
@hurr

The office hypewoman 😎 #marketinggirlies #officehumour #officelife #bonita #doyouordoyounotfeelbonita #office #officehumor #funny #trend #trending #marketinggirl #fashion

♬ HEYYY WAIT A SECOND - SYNTAX

And finally, Komodo. Considering the fact that Komodo is a global social agency, I was expecting slightly better than the quintessential “which co-worker are you?” clip. It was definitely quite awkward watching the employees try and mimic classic archetypes like, “the always cold one” or “the DIY girl.”

@wearekomodo

Which co-worker are you? 🤔 #socialagency #officelife #coworkersbelike #influencermarketing #officetok #friendsthemesong

♬ I'll Be There for You (TV Version with Dialogue) - The Rembrandts

Rather than focus entirely on the negative, we should also give some credit to those few companies who’ve managed to capture the gen Z voice in a much more authentic way. Office-based TikToks are always going to be a bit awkward, but it’s definitely possible to create a video worthy of the FYP.

One good example would be clothing brand Set Active. Whoever is in charge of the company’s TikTok page has definitely captured the right tone of voice when it comes to being actually funny online.

One of the account’s most popular videos features a highly dramatised peek into the new office seating plan. And in what can only be described as an episode of The Real Housewives of Corporate Life (an imaginary show that I’d hope would just revolve around office drama and Diet Coke breaks), we get to watch the Set Active employees lament to the camera about who they’re now going to be sat next to.

@setactive

POV: the new office seating chart really shakes things up🌪 #setactive #officelife #coworkers

♬ original sound - setactive

Next, we’re given a video where each staff member talks about how they feel now that the seating change has been made. It’s witty without being try-hard, and it gives us just enough of a look into the company’s culture and team dynamics, without feeling as though we’re watching a weirdly formatted advertisement.

@setactive

Today the office changed forever. Spilling all the tea monday😘 #setactive #officebts #tea

♬ original sound - setactive

As you can see, it’s definitely doable—creating legitimately funny office content can be done. However, it should probably be done by either gen Zers themselves, or zillennials who can tap into the minds of younger generations. I’m sorry, Boomers, but, maybe stick to LinkedIn?

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