How did Tube Girl go viral, and what can we learn from her overnight success?
Senior Account Director
Sabrina Bahsoon, aka Tube Girl, is the latest creator to go viral on TikTok. Four weeks ago she shot to social media stardom when she started posting videos of herself dancing to catchy songs on the London Underground – using the 0.5x zoom on her camera. Fast forward to now, and she’s just finished a whirlwind fashion tour, having been invited to shows in London, Milan and Paris.
So why did Sabrina go viral? Which brands have seized the opportunity to work with her? And what can be learned from capitalising on viral creators? We’ve explored and analysed Tube Girl’s overnight success.
The allure of Tube Girl
Tube Girl certainly divides opinions. Half admire her incredible confidence, half don’t quite understand it – but what we all have in common is that none of us can stop watching.
She exudes confidence, her captions resonate, and her comments are full of people hyping her up. Impressively, all her brand collabs (so far) have been met with celebration from her followers, instead of a drop in engagement other creators experience when posting ‘sponcon’.
Why does it work? Tube Girl is highly relatable. Her content style is easily recreated and her song choices are particularly catchy. It’s lo-fi, scrappy content - everything TikTok’s algorithm loves.
There’s a powerful message behind it too: Tube Girl dances not to attract attention, but to deflect and deter the harassment so many girls and women experience when riding the Underground alone.
Which brands won and why?
One of the biggest challenges social media marketers face is how to effectively reach Gen Z and harness their spending power.
Gen Z is self-assured and will purposely go against the habits set by older generations. They’re also known for their dislike of overt advertising, instead opting to engage most with content creators and micro-influencers.
It’s the most socially-engaged generation so far. As digital natives, Gen-Z is the first generation to have lived their whole life with devices. It means they’re particularly good at spotting disguised advertising and inauthentic marketing ploys.
That also means there’s a great opportunity for marketers to reach them through effective, targeted content. The question is: how to serve up thumb-stopping content that resonates.
Tube Girl has presented the perfect opportunity for brands looking to tap into that younger audience.
MAC Cosmetics was the first brand to come forward and work with her. The luxury beauty brand has long faced the challenge of maintaining its relevance, with a plethora of new, disruptive brands joining the market. MAC took a risk and secured Sabrina before any other brand could, getting her to walk for them in London Fashion Week and film behind-the-scenes content for her TikTok channel.
The results were spectacular:
- Sabrina’s TikTok channel: 2 videos, with a combined 10m views
- MAC Cosmetics’ TikTok channel: 1 video, 160k views - 150k higher than its average views per video
It’s no surprise luxury brands have been the first to secure Sabrina. These businesses face the constant challenge of reaching younger consumers – an audience that is sustainability-conscious and has driven the popularity of rental sites and apps selling second-hand items.
However, Gen Z is also highly trend-driven, and the biggest buyers of fast-fashion brands like PrettyLittleThing and Shein, making it the perfect audience for designer brands to crack.
Sabrina’s schtick works because, at first glance, it seems down-to-earth and relatable. But the confidence she’s selling is aspirational, which has perfect synergy with high fashion as we know it.
These brands needed to cut through and remain relevant, and the risk (so far) has paid off.
Will Tube Girl last?
Tube Girl’s views and brand deals will likely peak in the next few months. However, like other dance trend-led creators (Brookie and Jessie), and as Sabrina has already started to do, we’ll probably see her working with record labels – helping them push new songs into the algorithm in the hope of going viral.
It’s also a key moment for Tube Girl to sign with a good management team and prolong her wave of success.
How can brands capitalise on viral creators?
Tube Girl’s rise to fame demonstrates that viral creators are a powerful force – and brands can learn by the example her partners have set.
Even if these success stories are rare, it’s always worth brands keeping some influencer budget in reserve for when wildcard creators emerge. These collaborations won’t always come off - and the risk is higher - but when it’s done right, audiences will come flocking.