'Tube Girl': Embracing Viral Appeal
“Tube Girl,” also known as Sabrina Bahsoon or @sabrinabahsoon on TikTok, has been blowing up on TikTok recently for starting a viral trend of dancing and filming herself on public transport. Bahsoon, of Sierra Leonean and Lebanese background, posted her first “tube girl-style” video on August 13th where she stood in the front of a semi-crowded car on the London underground public transport system dancing to the Nicki Minaj verse on the song “Where Them Girls At” by David Guetta as the breeze from the subway’s movement blows her hair. Since then, Bahsoon’s videos have garnered millions of views, her most viral at a whopping 19.4 million.
Her viral videos dancing like no one's watching in front of often packed subway cars have sparked discourse on TikTok about confidence, self esteem, pretty privilege, and appropriate public behavior as well as started a massive trend of people doing similar things on public transport around the globe. From Paris to Tokyo to New York, fans of Bahsoon have tried “channeling tube girl’s energy” and exploring their comfort level of dancing and filming in public. Many creators have talked about how Bahsoon is inspiring people to care less about what others think and do what makes them happy, always sustaining unwavering confidence. Additionally, many women have also discussed how Bahsoon is also promoting a culture of women supporting and hyping up other women as they participate in the trend and step out of their comfort zones. Larger creators such as Alix Earle, Chris Olsen, Bella Poarch, and Haley Kalil have also been acknowledging the trend or collaborating with Bahsoon and artist Tate McRae has even made a video commending Bahsoon after a post that used her song. Publications such as The Messenger and even BBC have even made videos about or with her as she’s gained more and more popularity.
However, this trend has not come without criticism as there has also been a slew of videos calling her behavior inappropriate or “cringey” or making fun of people — usually women — participating in the trend in public. Additionally, there has been some respectful discourse about “pretty privilege” surrounding the trend and how the acceptability of these actions may shift with how conventionally attractive the person participating is. Still, discourse and criticism is inevitably with any form of virality and there is no doubt Bahsoon and the tube girl trend has become a global internet sensation.
So what does this mean for brands?
In addition to attending influencer and brand events, Bahsoon has had two major partnerships so far with Mac Cosmetics and BOSS and it’s safe to say these won’t be the last brands she’s working with. She has also released a Spotify playlist for her fans amassing 27,000+ likes, but is not affiliated with Spotify’s brand. TikTok creator Coco Mocoe posted a video speculating future successful brand collaborations Bahsoon could pursue such as Spotify, L’Oreal, and a Tate McCrae stage cameo.
The quick overnight growth of creators on Tiktok are a landmine for brands who step on it early and quick enough. Swift action in collaborating with emerging talent enables brands to harness the power of earned media, amplify their brand messaging, and position themselves at the forefront of cultural trends.
Collaborating with Spotify to push trending songs or a haircare brand like L’oreal for her wind swept hair are just some of the opportunities that are yet to be seen in her videos but for now:
Recognizing On-Brand Potential: MAC Cosmetics astutely identified Sabrina as a perfect fit for their brand. Without hesitation, they included her in their recent #LFW The Face Show. This proactive approach showcased MAC's ability to spot emerging talent and establish a connection swiftly. It created an authentic and exciting buzz during Fashion Week.
Amplifying the Hype: Collaborating with Sabrina during a critical juncture in her growth allows MAC to tap into her growing fan base. Sabrina’s walk on the runway generated extensive discussion, from publications to influential figures. MAC's strategic move yielded substantial earned media, underscoring the importance of seizing timely opportunities, as opposed to endless meetings.
Embracing Viral Appeal: In today's dynamic social media landscape, achieving virality is a coveted feat. MAC effectively harnessed Sabrina's surging popularity and seamlessly integrated her into their campaign.
Bahsoon’s surge in popularity sets a new standard as she has created a brand surrounding a feeling or energy— confidence. This doesn’t box her content in and allows the opportunity for evolution, not only for her but for collaborating brands as well.