TikTok GM Brett Armstrong: Upheaval, change and innovation – how we can all win in 2023


“History shows us that those who willingly embrace and create change often shape things long into the future”

If I was forced to characterise 2022, it would be a year of upheaval. Yet another year of unexpected events which will shape the next few decades in their own way.  

But by no means has it been all doom and gloom. From my perspective, it has been fantastic to be able to get out properly and meet partners and the wider industry after two years of forging relationships through video calls, and long may that continue. 

There are two ways of approaching the inevitable change. The first is a very natural human reaction, fear, and resistance. The second is less easy, but history shows us that those who willingly embrace and create change often shape things long into the future. 

And looking at the way the industry has adapted to the events of 2022 I think there’s a lot more of the latter than the former being embraced. Which actually makes me excited for the strides we can make together in 2023.

If we look back 100 years, we can see how relatively minor changes can have long-reaching effects. Coming off the back of World War 1, the 1920s was always bound to be a massive decade of innovation and evolution. Things we take for granted like the electric traffic signal, sunglasses and even the cheeseburger – yes apparently people hadn’t been putting cheese on their patties before then – were dreamt up. 

The entertainment business was also transformed forever with the addition of sound to movies for the first time, ushering out the first era of silent moving pictures for a new Golden Age of Hollywood. TikTok for one would be very different without the vibrant soundscape that underpins it. 

And commercial radio also came into existence – cementing the enduring interdependence of marketing with entertainment. Again, advertising has been a massive driver in how entertainment evolves in culture over the last century and remain intimately intertwined.
Fast forward to today and we’re seeing once again the importance of evolution and adaptability to the marketing industry, and how being part of cultural moments is as vital as ever. Again, what I’ve observed this year is more brands being prepared to roll up their sleeves and spend time understanding new platforms like TikTok and the use cases for their business.  


The mediums evolve, audiences move, but what we’ve been able to prove is that the fundamentals of engaging and entertaining storytelling remain unchanged and will do into the future. 

Culture moves faster than ever; we see how fast some trends can rise and fall. But there are also some longer term shifts we’re seeing play out. A move to more positivity, new technology fostering increased collaboration and ultimately a desire to do something meaningful to help others, are good examples

In times like these the power of creativity will really make a difference, which is why we’ve launched the TikTok For Good Launchpad, a new initiative to connect Australia’s most creative minds with social causes. 

We’ve already seen how these collaborations can drive real change. A great example of this is the recent collaboration with Melanoma Institute Australia and TBWA Sydney to create a public health campaign with creators making content to the theme of ‘Tanning. That’s Cooked’.

It’s all to raise awareness of the huge skin cancer danger from tanning among young Australians. This is the kind of work which will save a lot of lives for years to come – the kind of impact everyone should be getting behind.

I’m excited to help drive more of this impact, because in 2023 human kindness and collaboration is going to be more vital than ever before.

So while 2023 is undoubtedly going to throw yet more challenges at all of us, I’m really confident in the pioneering Aussie spirit of innovation to get us through and in better shape.

Those who embrace the change and work to shape the future rather than passively accepting what is coming, will benefit in the long term. 

Brett Armstrong is TikTok Australia’s general manager. TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. The platform’s mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. TikTok has global offices including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, Sydney, and Tokyo.

Top image: Brett Armstrong

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