adland creative

Adland's Creators: Meet The Advertising Mavericks Crafting Viral Content on TikTok and Instagram

Foodies, fitness, freedom and life-like fine artistry: discover some of advertising's own social media stars

By Dani Gibson

The advertising world is brimming with top class creatives who bring us some of the most original and inspiring commercial content.

But some of these ad folks are also creating content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram for their own amusement.

Be they creatives, planners, strategists, juniors or seniors, we've pulled together a celebration of some of advertising's most successful content creators with passion projects in the social stratesphere.

Tom Curtis, ECD, EssenceMediacom

Tom Curtis boasts over two decades of experience in the advertising industry, seamlessly transitioning from a planner to a creative powerhouse. His journey has been rooted in EssenceMediacom, where he currently serves as the agency's Executive Creative Director, spearheading innovative campaigns for major clients with bold and impactful ideas.

But outside of adland Curtis and his two sons have amassed almost one million followers on Instagram with their own bold idea.

Things I Have Drawn is an account where kids' drawings actually come to life. It all started as a fun project between Curtis and his 6-year-old son, Dom. Then Dom's little brother, Al, jumped in on the action too. Now, it's blown up into something way bigger, with parents from all corners of the world sending in their childrens' drawings.

Over the years, they've brought to life hundreds of creatures, cars, and characters. Even though Dom and Al have moved on, their old drawings are still kicking around, along with tons more from talented young artists everywhere.

You can find Curtis and his sons work on TikTok and Instagram.

Lucy Cooper, Creator, VCCP

From #CheeseTok influencer to VCCP creator, Cooper's journey into the advertising world has brie-n a gouda one.

Starting her cheese journey amidst the pandemic's peak, while working at a supermarket deli counter, Cooper found a book all about cheese and started sharing fun facts with her colleagues. They suggested she post them on TikTok, which was gaining traction in 2020. At first, she posted as a joke, filming behind the counter between customers. But her videos started getting attention. People seemed to like the cheese trivia, and she gained a following. Now known as "cheese girl," Cooper has successfully attracted over 19,000 cheese enthusiasts with her unique charm and #FunCheeseFacts”, a hashtag that organically generated one million views.

After two years of spreading her cheesy wisdom, Cooper graduated from university and landed her first role in the industry through a grad scheme, gratefully acknowledging her content as an influence.

Cooper says: "I loved my job on the cheese counter and how I was able to share that online. It also gave me an insight into the possibility of TikTok and got me hooked on content creation. The hours I must have spent on that app since then. Through my work as a social media ambassador for Waitrose and Partners I began to realise the possibilities of social, and when I applied for The Table at VCCP it was a sure fire way to show that I know the conversations happening online, and that I can film and edit for brands in a way that users actually want to see.

"Social is moving more and more towards a creator based approach, so for my brands I’m able to bring that creator insight and make sure that they’re speaking to users in a language they understand. It's given me first hand social experience that can’t be replicated by a few hours in a meeting room, and for that I’ll be forever grateful for the cheese (but I’ll never give away what my favourite cheese is )"

You can still find all of Cooper's CheeseTok clips here.

Kareem Shuhaibar, Creative Director and Content Creator, The&Partnership

In early 2024, The&Partnership added award-winning Creative Director Kareem Shuhaibar to their team. With 14 years of experience, he brings expertise from projects with brands like Coca-Cola, Smartwater, and Volkswagen. Notably, Shuhaibar's work includes viral campaigns like "The Autocomplete Truth" and "The Restaurant With No Food," which earned him recognition from various awarding bodies, including three Gold Effies and nine Cannes Lions. At The&Partnership, Shuhaibar will serve as Creative Director for KitchenAid, overseeing the 'kitchen' concept for Mars Food's brands, secured by the agency in late 2023.

So it's no surprise to learn that he's also entranced Lebanese food enthusiasts with his mother's recipes through his Instagram page, @thevoicenotechef which has amassed over 100k followers. The account originated during the pandemic when Shuhaibar grew tired of the limited fast-food options in London and began longing for the traditional cooking of his mother, feeling homesick as a result.

“In less than two years, we grew to over 75,000 followers," he explained in an interview with L'Orient Today. "They are all family recipes, typical Lebanese recipes. I want to keep them alive, even if we’re far away.”

You can find Shuhaibar's tasty recipe's here.

Imogen Coles, UK Influence Lead, Ogilvy

As an industry-leading influence specialist, Coles possesses an extensive understanding of effective strategies on social platforms. She became part of Ogilvy's team four years ago, playing a pivotal role in establishing the agency's influence services, collaborating closely with the global head of influence, Rahul Titus.

She started her channel, Booksundays, as a bookstagram account about eight years ago (the original booktok), using it as a way to test the strategies she was working on in her day job for publishers, but from a creator's perspective. She wanted a way to utilise her lifelong love of photography to better understand the other side of the industry that was rapidly becoming her career.

Eventually, Coles migrated away from books, and Booksundays became OneSlowSunday, celebrating the capture of slow living within everyday moments. In the last couple of months, it has evolved into ImogenColes - a better representation and a full-circle return to why she started the channel in the first place. It serves as her primary test base for work and a personal art outlet.

Coles says: "For me, content creation has provided many loves. It’s a way to never be reliant on my day job. If I was to fall out of love with Ogilvy (godforbid and not tempting fate) then I would have another option that ensures I’m never trapped in one 9 to 5. With almost 98% of creators now part time, it’s a feeling that perhaps resonates with a lot of creators.

"It’s a creative outlet for a passion that I never wanted to become my day job. Photography has always been part of my life, but I never wanted to be a photographer as such."

By sharing her love for books, leisurely Sundays, and vintage-style photographs, Coles has amassed over 140,000 followers who regularly engage with her daily blog featuring her family.

Find more of Coles' beautifully crafted content here.

Julian Vizard, Creative Partner, St Luke's

With over two decades in advertising, Julian Vizard is a seasoned creative force. At St. Luke's, he's been instrumental in driving bold campaigns for major clients.

Beyond the boardroom, on TikTok, Vizard amassed a significant following (16.2k) with his bold and imaginative AR effects. From his first foray into augmented reality during the pandemic with the Queen and Stranger Things villain Vecna to becoming one of the top creators in the field as part of its ambassador programme, Vizard's journey is a testament to his creativity and ingenuity.

Vizard reflects, "It was a valuable learning experience for me. I realised that effects become more successful when they tap into a cultural conversation at the time. Back then, everyone was talking about Stranger Things."

"Every day should be a school day, refreshing your thinking and approaching things differently. Some people fear AI will take their jobs, but those who learn to use AI effectively will be the ones who thrive and potentially replace others. I see AI as a fantastic tool, using it daily in my filters, even relying on Chat GPT to help with filter names and icons."

Check out Vizard's AR Effects here.

Abibat Adesanya, Strategy Consulting Analyst, Accenture

With over 108k followers across TikTok and Instagram, Adesanya's online content revolves around the concept of 'Freedom for the Girlies'. It stems from her personal mission to challenge societal norms and outdated beauty standards imposed on black women in the Western world, particularly regarding their hair.

Moving from Nigeria to the UK, she adopted Western beauty standards, chemically straightening her hair for six years. Despite black women's higher spending on beauty products compared to white women, their representation in ads remains minimal, prompting her to question her identity and the freedom to embrace her natural hair.

This sparked a significant change, marking the start of her online content journey. As she embraced traditional African hairstyles, she became a source of inspiration and advice for family and friends.

Adesanya says: "I love every part of the creative process, form understanding how to form ideas for an audience, to looking at how to create educational content that also feels like entertainment. It has hugely impacted the way that I approach my work at Accenture Song as I’m able to apply a creator lens to every client situation.

"Today, my online platforms hold space for black female-led conversations around how we can strip away the expectations and outdated ideals that have held us back, and finally embody the most natural and powerful versions of ourselves."

You can find Adesanya's content on TikTok and Instagram.

Rob Mayhew, Creative Director, Gravity Road

Compared to other creators on this list, Mayhew's content demonstrates a distinct industry focus. Nevertheless, he has successfully carved out a niche on the internet with TikTok series that humorously depict the realities of agency life, making them highly relatable to viewers.

With a background in stand-up comedy, Mayhew has worked for agencies such as Grey London, Arc Worldwide, Ogilvy Social Lab, and Fleishman Hillard. He currently serves as a creative director at Gravity Road.

Tired of traditional content creation strategies, Mayhew ventured into TikTok to explore its potential for professional endeavours. After six months of discreetly crafting content, he debuted his first agency-based video, which resonated with viewers due to its relatable scenarios. On TikTok alone, Mayhew boasts over 152k followers.

Check out Mayhew's content here.

Lydia Oldham, Designer, Dentsu Creative

Oldham began documenting her running journey with a private Instagram account, primarily for personal accountability. Initially hesitant to share on her personal Instagram, she kept her running documentation private. As her confidence grew, she transitioned it into a public channel to share her progress. Oldham openly shares her triumphs and setbacks, aiming to normalise the ups and downs of the journey and emphasise that there's no one correct path as long as it brings happiness. As she puts it, sharing her passion through content enables others to connect with her authentic self and draw inspiration from her creative pursuits.

Oldham says: “Finding creativity in unusual places can re-light your spark. I started running to help my mental health and documenting the process as a way to keeping myself accountable. Sharing the process felt like a natural progression, finding a passion outside of your natural confidence and security can bring creativity back.”

Find more of Oldham's running content here.


LinkedIn iconx

Your Privacy

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all of these cookies.