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How actress Bella Thorne approaches content creation for her jewelry brand

Celebrity-owned brands have become ubiquitous — making it harder and harder for them to stand out on social media, regardless of the celebrity’s following. And with online audiences craving authenticity, it can be difficult to raise awareness around the products without seeming self promotional. 

This is where a strong online presence and unique content comes in, as actress and entrepreneur Bella Thorne is learning. Thorne came to prominence starring on Disney Channel’s “Shake it Up,” followed by appearances in films like “Blended” and “The Duff.”

A year into launching her jewelry line Thorne Dynasty, Thorne says she’s gradually cultivating the brand’s voice through filmmaking and content creation. Using her background in filmmaking, Thorne is leaning into video series to showcase the line more organically, starting with this holiday season’s collection. With over 50 million followers across social media, including Instagram and TikTok, Thorne is experimenting with formats like short films and comedy sketches to drive traffic to the brand’s direct-to-consumer site. This holiday season is the first time Thorne has launched an official video series designed to promote Thorne Dynasty following a video series for the launch last year, named after the Rose & Reign collection.

“There are a million brands out there,” Thorne told Modern Retail. “So you test and see what works and what doesn’t, especially because jewelry is new to me so there is a learning process,.” Like with most of her online content, Thorne says she likes to “keep trying different approaches and see what gets people’s attention.” 

As the founder and CEO of the company, Thorne heads up the product design and content strategy for the brand. Thorne said online jewelry marketing specifically can be generic, with many companies running polished campaigns across social media. So using her online persona is one advantage for standing out. “A lot of people know me from my character traits and that I’m a little out there, so I wanted the brand to also have that feeling,” she said.

It’s mainly why Thorne came up with the new comedy short film, titled “Holiday in Los Angeles,” as a venture into this format. The film parodies celebrity and influencer culture, with Thorne playing a fictionalized version of herself. While hosting a visiting crew of a lifestyle show at her home during the holiday season, chaos ensues courtesy of her pet crocodile. For the holiday campaign, Thorne partnered with comedian Adam Waheed, comedian and internet personality Hannah Stocking and actress and influencer Laura Clery to write and shoot the film.

“Laughter is always a way to people’s heart, and this is something people just can enjoy and share,” Thorne said. “Even if they’re not buying the jewelry they’re exposed to the brand.” 

And if they get a chance to catch the product placement, “they realize ‘oh this is for her jewelry line,” Thorne continued. This is why the Thorne Dynasty pieces have a subtle presence throughout the video. “I’m wearing it the whole time but there aren’t specific lines or shots referencing it,” she said.

The strategy is part of Thorne’s theory on online customer journeys when discovering an e-commerce brand. According to Thorne, buying something from a direct-to-consumer website requires multiple “dates.” What this means is building engagement with the visitor through digital touch points, until they’re inclined enough to purchase something. “So by the third date, hopefully they’ll come to the website and buy something.” 

Striving to create virality on behalf of a specific persona sometimes means doing fan service. “For example, I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do more comedy,” she said. Most recently, Thorne’s filmography and social content has featured a lot of dark material, such as thrillers. 

As for the short film’s themes, Thorne said she incorporated incidents and jokes her followers are always asking about. For instance, “Albert the crocodile” is a big brand emblem, as an homage to Thorne’s hometown of Miami. So far, the unofficial mascot has shown up on bracelets and necklaces, and is being officially introduced in the new campaign; In the short, Albert is portrayed as an animated cartoon that terrorizes the neighbors.

“We also talk about polyamory and reference moments like the time I met Christian Bale,” she said; Thorne is referring to a 2015 incident when she met the actor and “he asked me for a photograph with his wife because his children love me,” she said. The short contains a fictionalized parody of this interaction, though in the short, Thorne’s character has a run in with a (clearly photoshopped) Brad Pitt.

So far the teases of the new collection, which is launching in the coming week, is generating buzz. Each teaser reel has generated around 800,000 views. “My DMs are flooded, and I can see searches for the new jewelry on the analytics of our store,” Thorne said. Last Valentine’s Day, a collection featuring heart shapes sold out multiple times. “They loved the hearts, so I combined them with the red color scheme,” she said. “I’m excited we finally have anklets and waist chains, I’ve wanted to do body jewelry for so long,” Thorne said, which are designed to be worn daily. 

Competition for eyeballs on social media is fierce, even among mega accounts. Jocelyn Florence, partner at celebrity talent partnership studio Parallel and a strategic investor, said there is a need to play into the celebrity’s talent and “leverage their skills” to create brand awareness. As for investing in high production content, Florence said it depends on the product the celebrity is trying to sell. “Slick videos don’t always make sense,” she added. “There is great room for that and also more casual content that’s more relatable.” 

For future marketing campaigns, Thorne said, “I think I’ll keep testing new things,” but create a video series yearly to promote different brands of hers; Thorne also owns cannabis brand Forbidden Flowers. She also wants to test new stunt campaigns. “I’ve always wanted to put a crocodile statue in the middle of Venice Beach so people can ask what it is and take photos of it,” she said. Currently, a new collection campaign is being planned for Valentine’s Day. 

For Thorne Dynasty’s promotional material, Thorne said, “I always start with what the fans have asked for and marry it with what I want to do.” Being the owner and face of a brand makes it harder to see what outside viewers are seeing, she said. “Metrics are important, I want to study them to see what [followers] want and how I can better target them next time.”