Kevin Mayer is getting back to work with TikTok.
The former TikTok CEO and top Disney executive now runs content company Candle Media. On Tuesday, Candle said it would enter into a “broad strategic partnership” with TikTok, co-developing premium content with the video platform, with branded content and ad sales as part of the deal.
The TikTok-Candle deal was announced at the Cannes Lions advertising festival.
Mayer, of course, was TikTok’s CEO in 2020 and left in August when the Trump administration threatened to ban the app in the US. Bob Iger as CEO, although Bob Chapek eventually got the job).
Mayer and another former top Disney executive, Tom Staggs, founded Candle Media in 2021. Their first major acquisition was Hello Sunshine, the production company founded by Reese Witherspoon, in a deal that valued it at $900 million.
Hello Sunshine will play a key role in the new TikTok deal, with the companies seeking “underrepresented independent authors and literary materials from the vibrant #BookTok community, with the authors then developing premium film, TV and premium support audio projects. ”
TikTok is also becoming a sponsor of Hello Sunshine’s LitUp Writer Fellowship program.
“We are excited to partner with TikTok and the #BookTok community to expand our LitUp initiative, where we will work together to continue to identify, uplift and empower underrepresented storytellers and bring their stories to life,” said Witherspoon in a statement.
Other Candle Media entities, including ATTN, Moonbug Entertainment and Exile Content, will also partner with advertisers on branded content. Candle Media will also become a TikTok Pulse Premiere publisher, allowing advertisers to buy ads right next to Candle content, splitting revenue between the content company and TikTok.
The deal is big for Candle, which has forged relationships not only with premium streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, but also more social platforms like TikTok and YouTube as it pursues growth. Moonbug’s franchises, including Blippi and Cocomelon, are among the most popular shows on YouTube and on Netflix. ATTN, meanwhile, has become an expert in creating content that travels on social video platforms.
The TikTok deal gives its content studios expanded access to the still-burgeoning video platform and makes it an attractive branded content partner for advertisers who have been wary of joining the platform until now.
“TikTok continues to experience explosive growth and has become a critical platform for storytelling and marketing,” Mayer and Staggs said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with the TikTok team to create compelling branded content, and for Hello Sunshine to shine a light on the thriving #BookTok community, which is home to a new generation of storytellers.”
“We are always looking for new ways to support the success and growth of our creator community, both on and off the platform,” added Nicole Iacopetti, TikTok’s global head of content. “We are thrilled to partner with Candle Media, and their business units, including Hello Sunshine, who have a proud dedication and proven track record of lifting women’s voices and amplifying their stories. We look forward to the future of this program and these powerful new storytellers.”