TikTok Creator Is Famous for Making Fake Ads. Now Brands Are Hiring Her

When Grace Wells created a TikTok account last April, she was hoping to sharpen her videography skills, keep busy during quarantine and maybe find a few people to appreciate her work.

Wells pronto lanzó “Making Epic Commercials for Random Objects”, una serie de anuncios falsos que hacían que incluso los productos más mundanos parecieran deseables.

Wells launched her TikTok experiment to find out what’s more important to making a product video go viral: the quality of the product itself or the video’s high production quality. Some of the subjects of her series? Dirt, toilet paper and a single kernel of corn.

“I thought it would be even more of a challenge to market objects that you’ve probably never seen an ad for ever,” she said. “I started with a fork and then started taking suggestions from the comment section. The series has become my entire channel.”

Wells’ 15-second spots, which could be easily mistaken for real commercials until the objects are revealed at the end, have become a huge hit on TikTok. She quickly got her answer: A great ad can make TikTok users love even the most humdrum objects. In a little over a year, Wells has garnered 1.3 million followers and 55 million views across her ad series. Soon after she released her first fake commercial, brands came calling asking her to create real ads.

Leveraging TikTok for professional discovery

Wells was first noticed by Who Gives A Crap, as the toilet paper brand’s packaging was featured in her fake toilet paper commercial. She has maintained a steady stream of clients ever since, which include Nerf, Sabra and Olay.

“I had an Instagram photography account, and it took me a full year to get 200 followers,” she said. “My following from early on showed me that TikTok is a totally unique platform in the potential for discoverability.”

Grace attributes her success on TikTok to the behind the scenes narrative that accompanies each piece of work, which is something she suggests to other creators who are trying to develop an audience on the platform.

“If I were just to post these commercials without any context, I don’t think any of them would perform as well,” she said. “The key ingredient to all of this is showing my process. Having that kind of narrative and glimpse into your life and who you are as a person, opposed to just what you’re making, is really important.”

After turning to TikTok to recruit a videographer, energy drink brand Celsius chose Wells for her ability to keep an audience engaged while maintaining a highly-professional final product.

“We were trying to find a fun way to get content that comes off as authentic but is actually really good quality, without having to do this high production and high expense video shoot,” said director of marketing Elisha Gill. “We thought that if someone can do a video on toilet paper and make it look cool, they have to have some talent.”

Creating social content that doesn’t compromise quality

Wells signed with Tool of North America in April, which began recruiting creators in early 2020. The production company has been increasingly moving into agency territory—as part of a larger trend across the industry—as the demand for more (and faster) content production has ramped up. After a history of representing directors with years of experience in the film industry, the shop was motivated to recruit new talent from social media.

“Our belief is that creators such as Grace are going to be the next generation of great filmmakers,” said managing partner Dustin Callif. “We are excited for brands to see the opportunity and potential in working with someone like Grace, who can create TikTok content and also create spots that can live on YouTube and maybe even broadcast.”

Calif recognized Grace as a young creator who can engage an audience on social media while also sticking to the basics of what makes an attractive commercial.

“Brands have been working with influencers in a way that is kind of nonchalant and informal,” he said. “We believe there is a little bit of an elevated opportunity to produce content that is going to better represent a product with the right lighting and attention to detail that you would normally put into a tv commercial. Leveraging this new wave of creativity to shoot it and finding a way to communicate that story is our sell to a brand.”

As for the future, Wells hopes to expand her portfolio by working on a greater variety of projects.

“Now that I have representation, I’m hoping to diversify the things that I’m working on,” she said. “In the future, I would love to be a commercial director on things that are not necessarily tabletop product videos. I hope I can expand to work with crews or on projects with more people.”


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