March TRENDspotting Report.

March TRENDspotting Report 2470x990

Welcome to the monthly BarkleyOKRP Internet Trends Wrap-Up. 

A long, long time ago — October of 2022, to be precise — Matt Mills, EVP of Fuel, had the brilliant idea to immerse our entire creative team in TikTok culture. TikTokTober, if you will. As a part of the month-long campaign to bring exciting ideas and different sides of the FYP to our inboxes, we created a weekly trend report.  

We quickly realized that this exercise wasn’t just enjoyable; it made us collectively smarter as a creative team. Who doesn’t want to be more innovative? As they say, the rest was history. We’ve been churning out these weekly trend reports for a year and a half now with contributors from departments across the agency – all self-admittedly and chronically online.  

Now, we’re ready to share what we discover each month with the world: trends, implications, and watch-outs for what’s next. It moves fast; we’re keeping up so you can too. 



Here are five trends we observed over the past month that are part of a more significant cultural or platform movement or story. 

If your album drops and no one can hear it on TikTok, does it even exist?

  • WHAT HAPPENED: Ariana Grande's new album dropped! While this news would generally cause many new trends, it didn't because none of her tracks would hit TikTok. This is the first significant pop release since UMG pulled their music from the platform, and, for us, at least, it's a STARK contrast. We went into album drop week, maybe knowing half of one of the new tracks on her album, when usually, with an album of this magnitude, we'd have her single AT LEAST. Yes, and stuck deep in our heads. She didn’t even trend on the platform!

  • IMPLICATION: We believe both UMG and TikTok will suffer from this separation. With multiple major UMG releases this year, including Taylor Swift’s new album coming in April, UMG has lost the power to promote new artists, songs, and albums through trends and TikTok content. However, TikTok loses here, too. With fewer songs available in the app, we’re already starting to see the same 3-4 repeated by unknown artists, making our FYPs dull. We can only hope that some kind of resolution is found so we can have the new TSwift album’s version of Cruel Summer stuck in our heads for the next few months.

Are we finally tired of being influenced?

  • WHAT HAPPENED: Beauty brand Tarte is now infamous for their OVER-the-top yearly Influencer getaway, but this year’s trip received the MOST backlash we've seen yet. Our internet friend, Caroline, eloquently explains this phenomenon, so watch her video! Love or hate influencers, we FULLY agree with her conclusions about where content creation is heading. 

  • IMPLICATION: It might be time to reconsider how we approach influencer relationships. While a traditional yet over-the-top collab and trip may work better with an Instagram audience (for now), viewers on TikTok ARE used to seeing the real, authentic side of people on the app. We can use this to our advantage when briefing influencers and picking the right ones to work with. 

When you use social listening to your advantage, everyone wins! 

  • WHAT HAPPENED: Expensive luggage brand Beis CRUSHED negativity and complaints with a pop-up shop. We love this because many brands would have ignored these complaints instead of addressing them head-on. Bonus: They were able to attract top creators to help boost their positive sentiment because of how "Instagrammable" (or "TikTokable" is the new thing to say?!) their pop-up was. 

  • IMPLICATION: Have you taken the time to analyze the brand love and complaints you’re receiving on social media? If not, there’s likely a huge opportunity to either a) improve your offering based on honest feedback or b) address that feedback head-on by showing off product features your audience may be missing. Your audience is talking about you – but how you receive that information and use it to your advantage is up to you! 

How to Take Internet Culture IRL 

  • WHAT HAPPENED: First, take a second to look at Gap's newest campaign here. Did you know that there are THREE TikTok trends in that video? A hit, trending song, hit choreography from that song by the OG choreographer, and a rising TikTok star, Tyla, known for hips just as good as Shakira’s. If you know any of those things, welcome to being chronically online. But, even if you didn't know any of those things, did you feel left out from connecting to the spot? We would venture to guess that this is probably not the case since this is objectively a well-done music video style spot that gets their new campaign across and recalls the iconic Gap ads from the 90s. Gap crushed it with this PERFECT example of successfully bringing TikTok culture outside of TikTok into the real world.  

  • IMPLICATION: Bringing internet culture outside of the internet is always a bit of a risky move, but it can be done, and we also believe we will see this being done more and more frequently. The biggest key is to stay within the internet and remember that we must also relate to the public. If you have a brand treasure like Gap did with their 90s ads and can update them with internet-centric thoughts, that is one way to secure a win.

Being authentic works, we promise

  • WHAT HAPPENED: Have you heard of Duke freshman basketball star Jared McCain? Not only is he going viral because he's exceptionally talented at basketball during March Madness, but also because he's not afraid to be himself, even if that's outside the norm. He's singing, dancing, painting his nails, and showing who he truly is. This is an interesting cultural shift, especially since it’s taking place in men's sports, where being silly and goofy and yourself are so far from what we’re used to seeing. We hope that his peers see the success and attention he's getting for this and that it helps him break down some of the "tough guy" stigma associated with athletes! 

  • IMPLICATION: This is something we talk about a lot in our weekly trend reports – authenticity. The internet, especially the audience on TikTok, fully embraces people (and brands) who are their authentic selves and show everything from the good to the bad and the ugly. What stereotypes are we upholding with the content we’re creating, and how can we pivot from them to find authenticity within our brand?


While we can’t see into the future (yet), here are some things we see as having a high possibility of becoming topics of conversation or generators of the next big meme! 

  • TikTok can't stop talking about the upcoming eclipse. Expect more and more eclipse content as it draws near. 

  • Taylor Swift drops her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, on April 19, and we’re anxious to see how the UMG / TikTok music ban affects her since she is a UMG artist.  

  • Regarding shows and movies, another hit Netflix reality show, The Circle, is back on April 17, and a documentary about Gen Z + Gen Aplha's favorite brand, Brandy Mellville, drops on April 9, which will make waves.

  • Finally, April 12-21 (or most of the month) will likely be taken up by Coachella chatter

And that sums up the highlights for last month. If you want more, download our appendix to see what we’ve been tracking per platform over the month. We’ll return after the last Friday in April to chat about everything that happened that month. And, as we always ask internally – let us know if we missed anything! We’d love to hear what trends you’re seeing pop up on your FYPs!

The BarkleyOKRP TRENDspotting report is a must-read for the modern consumer (and the brands hopping to attract + retain the modern consumer). Follow along each month as our in-house trend experts, FUEL, highlight the who, what + why this matters.

Download the March Trendspotting Report Appendix here.

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