- TikToker Harry Raftus built an audience of 1.1 million fans by chugging beers on camera.
- Raftus’ drinking content scares off some family-friendly brands, but attracts other marketers.
- The creator has earned thousands from song promos and has plans to launch a drinking card game.
Harry Raftus built an audience of 1.1 million TikTok followers by chugging and shotgunning beers.
The 20-year-old Canadian got his start on the app in May 2020 by filming montages of himself partying with friends. But his account really started taking off when he began downing beers and hard seltzers in various settings.
“Basically I just started to make that kind of my thing, and that’s how I grew pretty quickly,” he said.
Raftus’ TikToks are part of a growing niche on social media of loud and irreverent college and partying content. Other creators like the TikTok collective Sway LA or YouTube group the Nelk Boys have managed to turn partying videos into full-blown businesses replete with merchandise sales and, in the case of Nelk, their own hard seltzer brand. The category is becoming increasingly common on platforms like TikTok as the app’s user base has aged up. Videos with the hashtag #chug have been viewed 1.1 billion times on the app, and a wide array of users from Raftus to Reese Witherspoon feature booze in their posts.
TikTok doesn’t restrict the bulk of its users from seeing videos featuring alcohol as long as they comply with its community guidelines. Parents of younger users can limit the types of videos they see by putting the app in “Restricted Mode.”
“When I started posting more and more of the college drinking [and] partying videos, I think my followers pivoted from a younger demo to people in college and in sororities and fraternities,” Raftus said.
Unlike other TikTok creators who use their large followings to score brand deals with Fortune 500 companies, Raftus’ drinking content isn’t family friendly. He takes a different approach when looking to monetize his account.
Raftus has landed sponsorship deals with drinking-related startups like the card game “Do Or Drink.” He’s also worked with companies like Crank Lager and Bomani, a spiked cold brew brand, and said he regularly receives unsolicited free booze in the mail from companies like Four Loko. TikTok prohibits creators from making sponsored content for alcoholic beverage brands but doesn’t have barriers for promoting alcohol-adjacent products like a bottle snorkel, for example.
“Brand friendly is kind of a relative term because to a drinking company or alcohol-related product, I was like as on brand as they can get,” he said.
Raftus said he charges between $4,000 and $7,500 for a sponsored video campaign depending on the number of posts he’s tasked with making and how well it fits with his content style. He also earns money by promoting songs on TikTok where he’s paid anywhere between $1,000 to $2,500 for a 30-second TikTok video. Insider verified Raftus’ rates by reviewing five payment receipts he had received for sponsored videos and song promotions.
Like the Nelk Boys, Raftus is also eyeing direct-to-consumer sales as another source of revenue.
He recently launched a “Raftus” branded chugging device in partnership with the beer-bong maker ChugBud, which he said sold 200 units in the first two days after launch. And he plans to release a custom drinking card game in the fall in partnership with his manager Devain Doolaramani and a friend from college, Megan Umansky.
“I think we’re in a really interesting space now where these celebrity and influencers don’t really need to rely on those brand dollars because they’ve got their own marketing channels,” said David Krupp, founder of The Influencer Store, an upstart that develops direct-to-consumer products with social-media stars. “Sometimes doing naughty things enhances their brand within their community of fans.”
And Raftus said he’s only a little sick of chugging on camera for TikTok fans.
“Some nights it’s like, ‘This is the best job I can ever ask for,'” he said. “And then some days it’s like, ‘Oh sh-t, I gotta film this deal here and go at it again.’ So it’s a little mix of both.”