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Ad Giants Double Down on TikTok Amid White House Ownership Mandate

Top agencies actively promote TikTok's ad capabilities despite forced sale order

In a unanimous show of support, many of America's largest advertising agency holding companies have launched a collaborative campaign aggressively promoting TikTok as an essential ad platform for brands - just days after President Biden signed legislation giving the Chinese-owned app's parent company ByteDance one year to sell or face a potential nationwide ban.

On May 3rd, TikTok unveiled a marketing video produced in partnership with executives from dentsu , Havas , IPG Mediabrands , Horizon Media , Publicis Groupe and GroupM that overtly encourages brands to advertise on the app. "We're TikTok...telling you why your brand should be on TikTok," the company announced on LinkedIn.

The reel features agency leaders like dentsu's Cara Lewis and Publicis' Shelby Saville enthusiastically touting TikTok's ability to reach and move audiences, with Saville claiming to be emotionally impacted by the platform's popular user-generated content. Horizon's Dave Campanelli praises how TikTok allows connecting with sports fans.

This concerted ad world embrace arrives just ten days after Biden's RESTRICT Act cited data security risks and potential Chinese government interference in mandating ByteDance must divest its ownership of TikTok within a year or risk the app being banned in the United States. ByteDance has stated it plans to legally contest the forced sale order.

When asked for comment regarding their rationale for ardently promoting a platform the White House has deemed a national security threat due to its Chinese ties, the major advertising holding companies declined to provide any statement or explanation. A GroupM spokesperson did not respond to an inquiry.

The ad giants' unabashed endorsement of TikTok suggests their agencies' commercial interests in capitalizing on the popular app's lucrative ad space continues taking precedence over the data privacy and security concerns raised by the Biden administration's pending crackdown.

TikTok is vowing to fight the new law in the courts, with CEO Shou Chew  saying in a video posted to the service yesterday that "the facts and the Constitution are on our side." He added that TikTok expects "to prevail again," referring to Montana's efforts to ban the app, which was blocked by a federal judge.

That being said, TikTok is likely to attract attention from numerous suitors, given that the social media service is used by 6 in 10 Americans under the age of 30. Its algorithm offers up constantly scrolling videos pegged to users' personal interests and habits, creating an addictive stream that keeps them glued to the app. 

That could prove extremely valuable to a number of suitors, as long as TikTok is sold with its "golden jewel algorithm," Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives told CBS MoneyWatch.

With the algorithm, he said, "We estimate TikTok is worth $100 billion."

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