Picture the scene. You are a 27-year-old chemical engineer on a family skiing holiday bemoaning your single status. Your sister-in-law, several glühwein down, decides to help. The solution she opts for is to advertise you on TikTok. After all, she is a content creator, with more than 180,000 followers, and the internet is what she knows. This is what happened on 23 January 2024 to George Alster when his sister-in-law Gemma Alster decided to take his romance matters into her own hands. “Everyone meet George” (here) she said in a video, adding in the caption “Oh my gd. He’s going to hate me. But imagine if he met his wife this way. Iconic.” A week later, the post has more than 950,000 views, thousands of comments, and, just like that, Alster has a new content series seeing huge engagement, and a new job fielding applications for her brother-in-law’s hand in marriage.
Alster is a smart creator who began posting in 2020 while on maternity leave with her eldest daughter, Gigi, narrating content about her daughter’s life under the series “Stay At Home Baby”. With the success of this strand, she also added “Stay At Home Mum” content, branching out to lifestyle as well as parenting and building up a significant following for her funny takes and covetable interiors/husband. She is represented by MVE (formerly Margravine) and has worked with the likes of Hello Fresh, Tesco and Instax (here). She is no stranger to viral content – her pregnancy posts (here) and (here) have millions of views. What is interesting about the richness of her current content seam is the level of engagement. Alster says she has been deluged with hundreds of women looking for love, including an ex-Victoria’s Secret model, and took to the internet for advice on how to streamline the application process (here). When she posted that her brother-in-law and his pals were potentially going to be having drinks in the London Edition hotel last Friday night, a spy in attendance informed CORQ there were gaggles of young women present seeking an opportunity to make his acquaintance. “I volunteer as tribute” has become the women of TikTok’s clarion call. Amelia Liana and Amanda Rollins are just two of the creators who have volunteered to become George’s wife.
Incidentally, perhaps we should add here that the original video also announced that the Alster family were heading to the Maldives in March and that George was looking for someone to accompany him: Handsome man plus the Maldives is quite a clickable combination. On Wednesday, Alster announced the first date is set for next Thursday, here. She has also declared herself “the TikTok matchmaker” and threatened to do the same for her friend Lillie Bernie (here).
TikTokers may trust Gemma’s George over dating apps
So why has this content proved to be such a success? A discussion with the single members of the CORQ office points to a chronic disaffection with dating apps. One of the key factors in the power of the influencing industry has been the unique ability of creators to build trust: to operate as word-of-mouthpieces. Gemma Alster is followed by thousands who buy into her recommendations on a personal level: #FindGeorgeAWife is like being set up by a friend rather than an algorithm. It feels, as one of the CORQ team suggested, like “modern-day Bridgerton” with Alster as Queen Charlotte ready to announce her Diamond.
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The evidence is overwhelming that TikTok can really get behind a romance narrative: just look at the detecting involved in uncovering the relationship between Madeline Argy and rapper Central Cee. Remember the frenzy around creator Amelia Dimoldenberg and actor Andrew Garfield flirting on the red carpet, here? Indeed, Dimoldenberg’s signature show Chicken Shop Date is premised around awkward dating experiences with stars from the music industry. Dating shows on streamers, digital and terrestrial abound: there’s Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum, Naked Attraction on Channel 4, British pranksters Sidemen have been running live Tinder challenges on YouTube with astronomical viewing figures (here). Brands such as LuvJus are matching people on the streets of London for its TikTok page, generating millions of views (here). Norwegian comedian Else Kåss Furuseth has booked an arena in Oslo for her own, self-generated Married At First Sight experience. She posted on Instagram: “Will u marry me? In Norway there are over 1 million singles, and I’m one of them” (here), and included an email address for potential husbands to apply. Her wedding is on 20 April. You can book tickets. Alster’s #FindGeorgeAWife content, incidentally, doesn’t just appeal to singles either. Married women are commenting on the posts too, just as invested in the story.
For brands, dating content is interesting for several reasons. The dating process contains multiple lifestyle touchpoints: from venues to clothing to advice to beauty. In 2023, a popular digital campaign saw Clara Amfo team up with Bumble and eBay to build a Pre-Loved Dating Collection in response to the difficulty and cost of finding new outfits for dates (here). Just under 40% of the adult population (16 +) are single, according to the Office for National Statistics’ latest figures. Creating entertaining dating content, supporting singles and tapping into one of the most cherished narratives, romance, is proving to be a strong formula for brands. Alternatively, a free holiday to the Maldives is also powerful clickbait.
As for the man himself, here’s our Graham with a quick reminder: George is fond of a Mediterranean yacht break, works as a consultant and has cycled to Paris to raise money for Haematology Cancer Care. He also likes dogs. It’s no surprise, as Alster puts it, that “the internet wants George”.
By Emilie McMeekan, CORQ features director. Picture credit: Gemma Alster via TikTok