How a TikTok creator's fake Pepsi ad went viral and led to multiple brand partnerships –

Forgot Password?
Once registered, you can:
By registering you agree to our privacy policy, terms & conditions and to receive occasional emails from Ad Age. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Are you a print subscriber? Activate your account.
By Parker Herren – 1 hour ago
By Garett Sloane – 1 hour 43 min ago
By Adrianne Pasquarelli – 2 hours 45 min ago
By Adrianne Pasquarelli – 3 hours 45 min ago
By Jack Neff – 4 hours 45 min ago
By Adrianne Pasquarelli – 1 day 6 hours ago
By Tyler Bishop – 1 day 6 hours ago
By Asa Hiken – 1 day 6 hours ago
By E.J. Schultz – 1 day 5 hours ago
By Garett Sloane – 1 day 2 hours ago
By Asa Hiken – 1 day 6 hours ago
By Alexandra Jardine – 1 day 6 hours ago
By Alexandra Jardine – 1 day ago
A new type of influencer is emerging in the creator economy—one that is garnering followers and brand love not for their influence in a niche specialization, but for their ability to create ads for brands. 
Jona Daniel, a videographer, found TikTok fame over the past year for creating fake ads for brands, including Pepsi, Nespresso and Sprite. Daniel stumbled upon YouTuber Daniel Schiffer making a commercial at home, and, in the process of figuring out his next career move, was inspired to make ads himself. “When I saw that, I saw the perfect job for me,” Daniel said from his home in  Sant Feliu de Guixols, which is located in northeast Spain. “It was a way to make a living, but also be creative, be in a studio.” 
Schiffer, Daniel said, made the commercial look easy, so he decided to give it a shot. He reached out to a small Dutch beer company and offered to make them a commercial for free in February 2021. That led to him making additional spec commercials for Sprite, Nespresso and Coke as a way to hone his videography skills using what he had on hand.
But it was his spec commercial for Pepsi, which showed a condensated can being poured into a glass, that took off. Just 24 seconds long, the ad had racked up over 85 million views as of press time. 
“It’s changed my life from zero to 100,” Daniel said.
Daniel credits the success of that ad to a mix of simple shots, his funny expressions, an intentional lack of dialogue, and focusing on a brand that’s a household name. The video was reposted by LadBible, a British media company; director Paul Scheuring and actor Idris Elba DM’ed him; Josh Oshinsky, PepsiCo’s head of audio and video, reached out on LinkedIn, praising him for the video and how it made its way through various forms of social media.
Grace Wells, a videographer and social media creator who has shot campaigns in her home for brands like Grande Cosmetics, gave Daniel advice on what he should be charging brands, if they were to reach out for more work. Initially, Daniel’s rates ranged from €500 to €1,000 (roughly $494 to $988 at current rates), but he quickly learned that he could also be charging for licensing fees. An average video now costs brands around €15,000. “I saw Jona’s work and wanted to offer some help since it can be a challenge at the beginning to figure out what content is worth,” Wells said via email. “Not a lot of people make the type of content we both make.”
Since his Pepsi success, Daniel has worked with brands including oral care brand White Glo, Scrub Daddy, Vessi and Kodak. For most brands, someone on the team organically stumbled across Daniel’s work on their TikTok For You Page. 
Scrub Daddy’s chief strategy officer Will Augenbraun saw the Pepsi video and shared it with his social media team. The sponge company shipped Daniel its products for him to use to make a video. 
“He was really good at bringing our vision to life and keeping true to his own,” said Scrub Daddy’s social media manager Kerrie Longo.
“Our Scrub Daddy TikTok content is not very ‘pretty,’ it’s more home-movie-esque,” said Davis Miller, social media coordinator at Scrub Daddy. “Jona’s work is far more professional, so that opposite style I think is what caught our eye.”
Kodak reached out to have Daniel make a TikTok about the camera company’s portable projector. The brand had noticed an uptick in customer interest in behind-the-scenes content, so Daniel seemed like a good fit. “He really thinks about his content, how to show it and what the audience would want to see,” said Jessica Bitrain, director of public relations for C+A Global, a licensee of Kodak.
Influencer marketing has become an increasingly important part of brands’ budgets due to the ability to tap into creators, whose loyal audiences may align with a brands’ consumer base. But there’s a growing trend in brands looking to creators to also make ads in the way a creative agency might. 
Emily Zugay helped popularize the trend with her deadpan, intentionally bad brand logo redesigns, which had companies of all sizes asking her to do a take on their logo in her TikTok comment sections. 
“Social media is a brand-awareness platform first,” said Longo. “Jona was a one-time partnership, but we’ve done that with other creators, like Emily Zugay. They are just as important for their viral moments. And we try to be selective with those partnerships because they can get expensive, but they’re worth it. A viral video does lead to sales, but the main goal is brand awareness.”
Daniel somewhat stumbled into videography in 2021, after he quit his job as a duty manager at a hotel in Amsterdam. “I got burnout,” Daniel said. The Barcelona native had been making music as a hobby, and initially considered becoming a DJ. He got a loan of €7,000 to fund that career, but instead of buying music equipment, he bought a high-end camera, thinking it would lead to more employment opportunities. 
He and his girlfriend, Maria Alonso Sanchez, set up a small company, Blue Hour Productions, to shoot corporate videos and events.
Filming isn’t foreign to Daniel. His parents are deaf actors who have their own traveling comedy production, The Maloes Show, and are used to making content for their social media channels. “I knew how to set a scene, how to transfer feelings, but had to learn all the technical stuff,” Daniel said of seeing his parents work on their content. He devoured YouTube videos to learn about shutter speed and light sensitivity settings.
As a full-time videographer, Daniel’s days look much different now. He and Maria walk to their nearby studio (no longer in their kitchen) to start replying to emails and setting up shoots. He takes on two to four shoots every month, but is considering sticking to just two per month for a better work-life balance. Some days he presents storyboards to clients. After lunch, he shoots until the evening. He’s open to working in a professional studio, but thinks that being on his own has contributed to his videos’ unique style.
Daniel signed with Viral Nation, an influencer and technology company, in May. “I 100% needed help,” he said. “I had so many emails [to answer] that I wasn’t filming.” He adds that he’s learned a lot watching Viral Nation negotiate with prospective clients, and that American advertisers pay way more than those in Spain.
About 80% of his filming is for his own TikTok, with the rest being for brands. But the algorithm can be fickle. “You try to keep consistent,” Daniel said. “You have to have millions of views, which is frustrating, and when you don’t get it, another company sees it and maybe they stop talking to you.” 
He is eager to keep filming and learning. He’s never been in a professional studio and would love to see how they manage a team. But he’d also like to stick with filming objects. “I like products, because people need food, breaks, inspiration, but products are easier to work with. They’re just there,” he said.
“Even though my career has blown up and my life has changed, I am still a super amateur on this, and there is a lot to learn—a lot,” Daniel added. “Hopefully, next year I can start going to different studios and share knowledge with all the people I have met during this short but intense journey.”
In this article:
Erika Wheless is a technology reporter covering social media platforms, influencers, and esports. She was previously the e-commerce reporter for Digiday, and is a graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *