On Wednesday, a surreal TikTok ad from an advertiser posing as Amazon confused users into thinking the e-commerce giant was taking a stab at including absurdist internet humor into its online marketing strategy.
The ad featured gaming footage from the lego-like title Roblox interspersed with strange clips of a man dancing to Flo Rida and T-Pain’s 2008 hit “Low,” but only the part where T-Pain says “Apple Bottom jeans.” There are also robot voices bullying each other about grandmas and girlfriends overlaid on the ad. The bizarre video was highlighted by Eddy Burback, a popular YouTuber and streamer, on his Twitter feed Wednesday.
The ad purported to be purchased by the e-commerce giant Amazon, but Amazon told The Verge Wednesday that the ad was fake. Amazon said that it was investigating the issue with TikTok.
Later Wednesday, a TikTok spokesperson said that the ad wasn’t fraudulent, but the result of a technical issue. “This situation was the result of a technical issue, which temporarily swapped the Amazon ad creative with a different video,” a TikTok spokesperson told The Verge. “The issue has now been fixed.”
When you click the link attached to the ad, it brings you to an Amazon search results page for the key word “revealhome1.” The results include home decor and kitchen items like curtain ties and food jars. The ad could be an attempt to promote an Amazon referral code, and purchases made through the link would give the advertiser a cut of Amazon’s revenue.
Last year, TikTok opened up its self-serve advertising platform to all advertisers, taking on other digital ad market competitors like Facebook and Google, according to Digiday. While these self-service ad management services can create loads of revenue for companies like TikTok and Facebook, they’ve also been subject to fraud and misinformation.
Updated 8/4/21 at 8:27PM ET: Added a statement from TikTok.