Is The Company Claiming Credit For #AlexFromTarget Really Behind It?
Marketing startup takes credit for activating "fangirls" to spawn the viral phenomenon, but one of the posters denies that she was involved in the stunt.
Some wondered if the #AlexFromTarget phenomenon was too good to be organic. Now it seems so. But while a company called Breakr has stepped forward to take the credit for the stunt, that claim is generating more questions than answers.
Breakr Claims Credit For Campaign
In a LinkedIn post, Breakr CEO Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares explained how he and his associates supposedly turned an innocuous photo of a teenage Target employee into a world-wide trend on Twitter, spawning a hashtag that has been tweeted more than a million times in the last several days. He said they did it by activating a network of “fangirls.”
Leonares described in his LinkedIn post:
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, UK 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.
But Part Of Breakr Story In Question
But now “Abbie,” aka @auscalum, is claiming that she doesn’t work with Breakr. Marketing Land asked Leonares in a follow-up email about this, but he never responded.
Meanwhile, his company Breakr tweeted that it was correct that @auscalum doesn’t work for it:
And Leonares gave Mashable a strange statement that didn’t provide any proof that his company was behind the campaign — yet still claimed that his company got @auscalum to post the picture.
#AlexFromTargetAtTargetWithEllen In Time For Ellen’s Target Exclusive CD
Another wrinkle playing out today is that The Ellen DeGeneres Show has apparently flown “Alex” out to Los Angeles to take advantage of his sudden Internet fame (@acl163, who reportedly had 2,000 followers Sunday, now has more than 568,000).
DeGeneres just released a holiday CD available exclusively at Target, and the show’s account tweeted about it this afternoon:
That happened 11 minutes before tweeting this shot of her and Alex in a Target outlet:
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) November 4, 2014
And that new hashtag — #AlexFromTargetAtTargetWithEllen — briefly appeared on Twitter’s worldwide trending list. So it all seems a bit too coincidental.
If Breakr is really behind the campaign, it says The Ellen Show and Target both were unaware. Leonares told Marketing Land in an email that neither was in on the plan (although Target jumped on the hashtag with a “We heart #AlexFromTarget too” tweet Monday morning before Breakr’s alleged involvement was widely known).
The Real “First” Photo?
Further complicating the matter, what might be the original picture of Alex was posted back on October 26 here:
Thomas Baekdal further delves into the path from that photo to it getting all the attention this week.
It’s possible that Breakr was involved reusing that photo and helping it — and Alex — go viral as claimed. Or this story may have new turns to come.
Postscript [11:15pm ET]: Now Alex of #AlexFromTarget himself is saying he has no connection with Breakr, saying in a series of tweets that he’d never heard of it before:
Breakr didn’t actually claim any connection with Alex. It suggested he was chosen at random and without his knowledge as part of a claimed experiment. So, it’s possible Breakr was still involved in some way in causing his rise. It’s equally possible that it had nothing to do with it at all.
Also, the original post on LinkedIn has disappeared to LinkedIn choosing this time to update its Pulse area for about eight hours. Other Pulse posts have also disappeared, so it’s not specific to the Breakr story.