We all know of a goofy relative who loves posting family home videos online, yet how many of them turn into an overnight success? Not many.
The McFarland family is the exception to that rule. In just a couple of months, the family gained millions of followers from their viral skits on TikTok. It didn’t take long for brands to take notice of their relatable, family-oriented comedic charm (especially during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic).
With most skits taking place in their family home, Colin, Dylan, Mitch, Dan, and Kathy together create goofy videos that appeal to a wide age demographic. The father of the family, Dan McFarland, is almost always the star entertainer of the videos, earning him the title of “the father of TikTok”. So far, the family’s most popular video is a Gillette sponsored ad with 82.2 million views — metrics comparable to a Super Bowl commercial.
TikTok has been a hotbed of success for influencers, as the platform exploded to over 1 billion monthly active users, fundamentally changing the influencer marketing industry. Of the many changes happening in the influencer marketing industry, the most interesting shift has come from creators like the McFarlands that are unconventional, yet massively successful.
Meet the McFarlands in our exclusive interview and learn about their rise to TikTok fame and their learned insights into creating viral content.
1. Some of your highest viewed videos happen to be sponsored videos, (Gillette 83M views, Hillshire 72M), what are a few elements that make a great sponsored post?
Both Gillette and Hillshire are great examples of sponsored posts that do not feel like they are paid promotions. Both videos have elements of surprise as well as eye-catching transitions that focus more on video quality (rather than selling a product).
We’ve seen that sponsored posts tend to perform better when we are able to create content that feels natural to our content style while incorporating the brand in a natural feeling way.
2. What do you believe older generations bring to the table that sets them apart from younger influencers?
Our social channels are a bit of an anomaly. We’re able to combine humor styles of Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z’ers all wrapped up with a metaphorical comedic bow.
Just as in real life, older generations tend to bring a sense of wisdom and knowledge. Millennials were able watch as social networks began to take over the internet. We saw what works on the internet as well as what doesn’t work.
3. Which brand first reached out to you about sponsored posts? What was your first reaction?
The first brand that reached out to us was Flex Seal. Before they reached out, we actually posted a Flex Seal-themed TikTok that led to us being noticed by the brand.
They loved the video so much that they asked to partner with us to create more Flex Seal content.
Our first reaction after being contacted was a mix of excitement and nervousness. Excited because we found ourselves being asked by a brand that we know and love to create content for them, but nervous because we had never done any brand deals before and had no idea how to navigate these waters.
4. Historically, TikTok has been dominated by Gen Z’ers. Do you see that changing in the future?
After being on TikTok for two years, we have seen the app grow in every way. When we first joined, the types of videos we would come across on our For You Page were most likely Gen Z generated content or content creators that were still posting Musical.ly style lip-synching/dance videos.
We saw the potential in the algorithm and started posting our very random, almost meme-like, videos.
We’re not sure if there will ever be a shift of which generation dominates the app, but we know that more and more numbers from EACH generation will continue to join TikTok.
5. Who’s the best dancer in the family?
It’s a tie between Dylan and Dan… although Dan did win a Disco competition in ‘79.
6. Favorite song to dance to?
The Sun by Myd
7. Weirdest family tradition?
Singing 5 little pumpkins on Halloween night. We literally carve our pumpkins then hold hands while we circle the pumpkins and sing “5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate.” It’s almost seance-like.
8. As an influencer, how do you decide which brands to partner with? What values are most important to you in a brand partnership?
We strive to work with brands that we use, know, and love. Our goal of brand partnerships is to work with brands that match our creative direction, positivity, and humor.
9. Since you started out on TikTok, you’ve partnered with Oreo, Grubhub, Taco Bell, Feeding America, Cheetos, and several more major brands. So far, which partnership are you the proudest of, and why?
One brand partnership we are extremely proud of is Colgate. The gist of the campaign was to #MakeMomSmile for Mother’s Day. Colgate wholeheartedly trusted us in our creative direction and it paid off.
Our video showed Dylan and Colin rushing to prepare Mom a surprise Mother’s Day backyard brunch while Mom and Dad took the dog on a walk.
Because the video was focused more on making Mom smile rather than Colgate’s toothpaste, it ended up receiving 6.3 million views and 1.2 million likes. It was very positive and on brand for both us and Colgate.
10. To be a successful influencer, posting regularly is a must, and each video takes up to a few hours to make. How do you keep it fun and avoid burnout?
Because we get to do this as a family, we have five creative minds that are always thinking of the next idea which almost gives us an “anti-burnout” quality.
We’ve always been extremely close and having the opportunity to share our family antics with the world through social media has brought us even closer.
In short, we love goofing around together so why not film it?