duolingo and scrub daddy

If you haven’t been privy to the Duolingo + Scrub Daddy co-branded TikTok effort, then let us lean into the scandalous version, posted to the Scrub Daddy account. Or, if you prefer a more PG version, take a look at the one posted to the Duolingo account “pov legal wants a non-explicit version”.

In a nutshell, the two brand mascots joined forces in multiple TikTok videos that ultimately viewers have dubbed as salacious fan-fiction. In the most jaw-dropping video of them all, the two come together and eventually Duo births their Duo/Scrub Daddy Sponges.

Crazy, right!?

These two brands had viewers and the marketing industry completely stumped.

Was this okay? Was it the right move? Was this too much?

News outlets high and wide chimed in, and the feedback has been a toss up. Some people reason that brand accounts should act in a more professional light, while others are applauding their disruptive marketing approach.

In this sense, disruptive marketing has been about creating multiple, chaotic short-form stories across two brand accounts. As the two accounts have grown in numbers and in style over their reign on TikTok, it’s become clear that building brand presence in the social space has far more to do with being social, comedic, and relatable than it does in trying to sell a product or service.

And although the ROI from brand presence isn’t exactly easy to quantify, the analytics provided from TikTok help to close the gap between what’s merely fun and social and what turns into cold-hard cash.

Founder and CEO of Scrub Daddy, Aaron Krause, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he knows “immediately how many people saw [a TikTok video]. 

“If 2 million people watch a video, 250,000 people liked it, and 3,000 commented on it, the CEO said, he can track TikTok users following the link from a video to the company’s Smile Shop to make a purchase.” 

“I know exactly the ROI on that. You can’t get that kind of data anywhere else,” said Krause, who says he sleeps “like three hours a night” and reads every social media comment.

That said, the 3 co-branded videos garnered (as of 4/26/22);

Scrub Daddy

  • 13.3 million views 
  • 2.7 million likes
  • 35.5 thousand comments


  • 5.3 million views
  • 886,500 million likes
  • 17.8 thousand comments

What does this mean for the rest of us?

Numbers like that are hard to ignore, but not every brand can (or should) take the same “edgy” approach. Some brand personalities are inherently more conservative or family-friendly (non-profits, B2B businesses, doctors, etc.)

Brands like Duolingo and Scrub Daddy are opening the door for the rest of us to step out of our usual social media patterns and be more relatable to our audiences. While you don’t need to go out and film a bunch of cheeky videos, you can take some notes from what these brands are doing. Use this as an opportunity to have a little fun – just remember to keep it within your brand’s ethos.

Grain of Salt

Social media is all about being social and building communities. One way brands can dip their toes into the community pool is by commenting on other posts or replying to comments on your own posts. It’s a simple way to engage with people and start conversations. 

Take a look at how Starbucks shows off their brand personality in the comment section of their videos:

starbucks tiktok engagement

Don’t be afraid to interact with other brands. Co-branding and cross promotion are well established marketing strategies. It’s a great opportunity to share audience visibility and to show off your brand’s personality.

skittles twitter engagement
skittles twitter engagement

Not every company is going to be comfortable with diving into a disruptive approach like Duolingo or Scrub Daddy. Our advice would be to promote the personable aspects of your brand because at the end of the day, people buy from people.