Meet Alex from Target, aka #AlexfromTarget, who was launched into viral stardom overnight when a teenage girl posted a photo of him packing groceries. The Target employee became the latest affection for many teen girls. His Twitter account quickly went from 144 followers to over 630,000.
This spawned many retweets and even “Alex from Target” knock offs culminating with the ultimate celebrity coo, a visit from Ellen DeGeneres. But was it real or a marketing ploy?
An influencer network called, Breakr claimed to have started and fueled the #AlexfromTarget viral fire. In a LinkedIn post claiming credit for the meme:
“We wanted to see how powerful the fangirl demographic was by taking a unknown good-looking kid and Target employee from Texas to overnight viral Internet sensation. Abbie (@auscalum), one of our fangirls from Kensington, U.K. posted this picture of Alex Lee (@acl163) on Twitter. After spreading the word amongst our fangirl followers to trend #AlexFromTarget, we started adding fuel to the fire by tweeting about it to our bigger YouTube influencers.”
When Breakr broke this news, fans were crushed and viral dreams dashed, many doubting that it was all a marketing ploy. Even Alex, Target and the original @Auscalum tweeter have denied having anything to do with Breakr. Was Breakr really behind this or are they merely trying to cash in on the viral wave? Whatever, Breakr’s announcement has quickly doused the viral fire sending up very bad smoke signals indeed.
Reality Check? For something to truly go viral it has to be genuine. It cannot be a made up or forced. Otherwise, it will be reduced to ashes like #AlexfromTarget’s short lived fame.