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A brand-to-creator storyline earned 9 million TikTok views for this hot sauce brand

When brand social + creator teams work together, everyone wins.

So I’m toying with going 2x a week with this newsletter. I’m curious whatcha think of the idea.

The format I’m considering: The Breakdown on Tuesdays, where I write a case study on specific social content (like today’s issue!) and The Big Idea on Thursdays, where I’ll hit more theory like The +20% Content Strategy and The Full Funnel Social Checklist.

Would you read social things twice a week? What would be most helpful? Lemme know—reply right to this email, I’ll hit ya back. Til then, let’s talk

  • How a TikTok Hot Sauce brand generated 10 million views

  • A great example of a brand + influencer teaming up

  • A song about layoffs?

Social Breakdown: How a hot sauce earned 10 million TikTok views with a brand-to-creator back-and-forth

You’ve got brand social teams making brand social content, and you’ve got creators hired by brands making social content about the brands.

Weirdly enough, they rarely interact with one another past a witty Instagram comment or retweet. And that’s probably a mistake.

Lucky us, a viral Hot Sauce company just showed us how to tie Creators and Brand content in a way that made both go viral.

The Brand: Elijah’s Xtreme Hot Sauce

A common content type for direct-to-consumer brands: packaging up orders. Yes, as in the opposite of the ever-popular unboxing content. With so many new product companies coming from young business owners, we culturally love to support the ambition by slapping the like & purchase buttons as they build in public.

Elijah’s Xtreme Hot Sauce does a great job hitting your feels as hard as your taste buds. You’ll hear mentions of Dad, friends, company mistakes, attempts at cool new goodness, and everything else on their TikTok.

The Content: The Impossible To Open Bottle

A common gag of the packaging content format: acknowledging weird requests from fans & purchasers for how to package the product. So when @DormRoomDinners commented “I dare you to make my order impossible to open,” Elijah took the challenge to heart.

He put the hot sauce bottle in epoxy… which should be truly impossible to open. And the video of the process did 5.5 million views. Take a look.


Replying to @dormroomdinners You wont believe what this customer asked me to do with their hot sauce order 😂 #elijahsxtreme #packingorders... See more

The Feature: TikTok’s Reply To Video

This part’s important. Elijah didn’t just make a video about the consumer’s escape roomish request—he used TikTok’s native “reply with video” feature.

Here’s the caption from the post. That “Replying to “@dormroomdinners” note shows the feature in action. It ties the original comment + commentor to the new content, giving viewers important context + (we suspect) a nice little boost for using a TikTok feature.

Now, let’s look at what the creator did with his unboxable box.

The Creator Content: The (almost) unboxing

A quick scroll through @DormRoomDinners’ content shows lots of plays on viral TikTok food brands like Elijah’s, Ryan Trahan’s Sour Strips, and Smackin’ Sunflower Seeds. Creating videos about Creator brands + educational food content has earned him 76k+ followers and several viral videos.

And yes, his failed attempt to break open the epoxied hot sauce went viral with 2.2 million views.


@Elijah’s Xtreme Hot Sauce I can’t believe you did that 🥵✌️ @Elijah’s Xtreme Hot Sauce #elijahsxtreme #hotsauce #tiktokshop #smallbusiness #spice

It’s 10/10 creator content. He has a killer hook up front, does a great job recapping the story so far, he gets creative in his attempts + shot selection, and ends a fulfilling narrative by making it a trophy of sorts.

The Recap: an extra 1.4 million views

A 5.5 million owned video + 2.2 million creator video would’ve made most brands plenty happy, but remember: this story happened on two different accounts. That means the brand's followers don’t necessarily know if the creator even received the package, much less tried to pen it.

As a final video in the series, Elijah wisely created a full recap for the brand TikTok, showing the original creation of the impossible bottle + how DormRoomDinners tried to open it (wisely using the green screen effect to stay on camera as if he’s watching it himself).

With mostly found footage, the hot sauce brand earned another 1.4 million views on this final video, brining the campaign’s total view count over 9 million.


A customer challenged me to make their hot sauce order IMPOSSIBLE to open 😵We just got the update video 🤝via @DormRoomDinners #elijahsxtr... See more

How your brand can give it a try

  • Have your brand creative and influencer teams work together on creator pitches. Integration is the key here, and it doesn’t happen enough.

  • Consider creating own content campaigns on your brand social that serve as a key part of your influence briefs. Specifically ask influencers how they might build off of your content play.

  • Allow influencers to pitch more than one-off video ideas. Encourage them to think in series, then bring those concepts back to the brand social team to see how everyone can play.

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Social Cues

There are so many social big thinkers out there, writing all kinds of amazing strategies, analysis, and breakdowns. All ships rise with the tide, so here are a few reads from other places I think you could learn from.

Gav’s a friend of a friend, and a bit worshipped among my band pals. A brilliant multi-instrumentalist with painfully clever lyrics. His new song “Layoffs” will definitely resonate with anyone who’s lost their gig (his day job’s in tech, so he knows our pain well).

Wowww. I honestly wasn’t sure if we’d see our favorite artists back on TikTok, but it seems everyone’s playing nice. This is a win for the artists & fans more than anyone.

The real TL;DR here: curators are thankfully gonna have a tougher time on Instagram going forward. If footage is seen on Instagram twice, the original video will get the priority algorithmic push.