In August, Sabrina Bahsoon, better known to TikTok as “Tube Girl,” posted her first TikTok, featuring herself dancing on — you guessed it — London’s tube. She went on to post similar videos every few days — and in some cases, multiple times a day — which earned her a following of 710,000. And, as her follower count has skyrocketed, brands have come calling.
MAC was the first beauty brand to work with Bahsoon. In September, it tapped her to walk in its Face Show, a runway show it held during London Fashion Week at Outernet London. In part, the event was meant to promote MAC’s Studio Radiance Serum-Powered Foundation, the brand’s first liquid formula release in almost a decade.
“She’s into self-expression and self-confidence. And, while delivering breakthrough creative content, she’s instilling in a community of social media users and creators a sense of fun and not taking yourself too seriously,” said Aida Moudachirou-Rébois, MAC’s svp and global CMO. According to Moudachirou-Rébois, MAC prioritizes being a culture brand. And so, just five days before its runway show, it got in touch with Bahsoon and asked her to partner, both on and off the runway.
The partnership was two-fold. It included two sponsored TikTok posts, in addition to Bahsoon’s modeling debut via her walk down MAC’s runway.
The first TikTok went live on September 16, in which Bahsoon instructed her followers on “How To Tube Girl.”
“1. Reapply fresh gloss after your commute,” the text on the screen reads, before it switches to “(Yes I’m a M.A.C. girlie).” Then, “2. Pinch the screen for 0.5 x and let the wind hit!” And finally, “Film like no one is watching. Even though they totally are ;)” The post has 3.5 million views and over 210,000 likes. Commenters supported Bahsoon’s segue into paid influencer deals with countless iterations of comments like, “Get that bag tube girl!!!!!!”
“The first-ever beauty products I bought were from MAC, so them being my first collaboration felt full circle. … From the very first call, it was clear they got me and respected my view,” Bahsoon said via email. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that videos of me dancing on the tube would lead to a beauty partnership. But as I kept releasing more videos, I started to realize that people are drawn to confidence and people enjoying their lives. … And people seeing that someone just being confident in themselves can lead to incredible partnerships seems to inspire them to just go for it.”
In a second sponsored post, on September 17, Bahsoon hosted a two-minute Q&A session, in which she teased that she’d be making her runway debut in MAC’s show that evening. She also shared with her followers that they could tune in to the livestream via YouTube. According to Tribe Dynamics, Bahsoon’s two TikTok posts drove over $100,000 in earned media value, driving mass social conversation around MAC as the first beauty brand to partner with Bahsoon.
Moudachirou-Rébois said the partnership was a testament to MAC’s ability to “move slightly ahead of culture.”
The makeup brand has long made a name for itself via pop culture-aligned partnerships, including co-created collections with stars, cultural icons and films. Its past star collaborators include Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Ellie Goulding and Lourde. It has also teamed with posthumous icons like Whitney Houston and Marilyn Monroe; fashion designers including Zac Posen, Giambattista Valli and Proenza Schouler; and films such as “Black Panther,” “Miss Piggy” and “Cruella.” Its Viva Glam campaign has leveraged such partnerships to raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness for the last 29 years.
“[Bahsoon] came onto our radar as she started to go viral on TikTok,” she said, noting that it happened to occur in tandem with the brand putting the finishing touches on its runway show planning. “She fit right in with our diverse cast of models who represent what it means to ‘be MAC,’ including Twiggy, Munroe Bergdorf, Tyreece, Aweng Chuol, Chris Grave and Calum Harper.”
Moudachirou-Rébois added, “It [came together] very fast, but that’s how we like to move.”