TikTok creator Thea von Engelbrechten has skyrocketed to virality for her zany, soap-opera-esque video series starring Calico Critters, cutesy animal figures known as “Sylvanian Families” outside of the U.S. and Canada. In contrast with the toys’ overly adorable designs, von Engelbrechten’s quick video dramas typically revolve around adult themes such as infidelity, alcoholism and gang violence—but with comedic dialogue—and they’ve attracted the attention of brands such as Amazon Prime Video, Burberry and Ruggable.
Unlike a typical influencer partnership, marketers aren’t interested in having von Engelbrechten herself promote their products—they’re seeking to have their brands inserted into the melodramatic plot lines she acts out with miniature animal figures.
Ruggable, a direct-to-consumer rug brand, worked with von Engelbrechten in July to promote a sales event and “capture viewers’ attention in an unexpected and delightful way,” rather than turn to a more traditional influencer partner, a company spokesperson said in an email. “The goal for a campaign like this one is for the creators’ audience to enjoy the content just as much as they would a fully organic [unsponsored] video,” they said.