Nothing on the Internet is real anymore. Alex from Target? Sure, he’s just some kid who works at a Target store in Anytown, USA, but was his instant viral success the result of 562,000 teenage girls suddenly falling in love with his Bieberesque looks? Possibly not. Instead, Alex Lee’s life was flipped upside down – he already Tweeted a photo from his flight to Los Angeles today, all to the delight of his army of new followers – as the result of an alleged marketing stunt by something called Breakr. The entire trending power of #AlexFromTarget, one man wrote on LinkedIn yesterday, was not a random freak occurrence powered by the obnoxious hormones of teens with unlimited access. Instead, it proved an idea that if manipulated and twisted properly, teens and so-called fangirls could change the world.
That man is Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares, and he’s the Founder and CEO of Breakr, which is a website (currently in beta testing) that claims to “connect fans to their fandom.” I don’t know enough about Breakr to pretend to know how it’s different from Twitter in that regard, but what’s important here is that Leonares and his Breakr Nation of fangirls, according to c-net, have taken credit for Alex from Target’s sudden rise to fame.
UPDATE: As expected, at least one person is calling Leonares and Breakr fibbers for claiming that they’re behind it, as the girl in London that the CEO mentions in his post Tweeted that she has nothing to do with Breakr before making her account private, and Alex doesn’t follow Breakr on Twitter (which doesn’t really mean anything).
So there’s a chance that Leonares and Breakr are just trying to drum up some free publicity out of this. That’s as shocking as teen girls freaking out over a kid who works at Target.
Anyway, back to Leonares’ claims:
Yesterday, we had fun on Twitter with the hashtag #AlexFromTarget which ended up to be one of the most amazing social media experiments ever. 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.
“Am I famous now,” Alex asked his new followers, before 38,000+ people would retweet and another 76K would favorite his simple question. He had become a young Duke Silver, as thousands of teenage girls Tweeted at his girlfriend how lucky she is, while thousands more threatened to kill her. Seriously. God only knows what was going through this young man’s mind as his follower count spiked to B-list numbers, while his girlfriend also accumulated five figures worth of followers.
We saw two sides of the conversation happening with people joining in to support the hashtag just to trend it and the other side of people getting upset that a guy with good looks could become “internet famous” with no work. In reality, when you look at the whole situation from a macro view you can see that if we can build an individuals fan-base on Breakr, we can translate that powerful following into a bigger career. Just like Jack & Jack from Vine with millions of followers going into the studio with no record label support for six week then launching to reach the top of the iTunes charts.
What Leonares wrote here is both understandable and fascinating, because I’ve long wondered how the hell we’ve reached a point in popular culture that “Vine star” is an actual profession. There are people out there who call themselves “Twitter comedians” without an ounce of irony. And YouTube, well, forget about it. Every Matty B out there would slice the next kid’s throat for the kind of success that Alex from Target just achieved in a matter of 24 hours.
Stephen launched a parody YouTube video to keep fueling the social media flame with our kids (as you can see in the video below, we were all in a Google Hangout the whole time). By controlling both sides of the conversation, we got more and more people to talk about the situation which kept the hashtag trending #1 on Twitter worldwide. Alex’s Twitter account started with 2k+ followers around 2pm and is now at 340k+ followers.
UPDATE 2: The guy who made that video told BuzzFeed that he has no relationship with Breakr, while Breakr reportedly won’t reveal any information about their “fangirls” and Twitter network.
Pop-culture companies publications like Buzzfeed picked up on the trend writing article about the whole situation. As of this morning every major media company has pushed coverage on it.
Well, in fairness, we’re all vultures picking every last shred off of any bone that looks somewhat appetizing. At least now we’ve reached the point that we’re all crapping it back out.
During the same time, we were announcing our new Breakr member – Corbyn Besson which helped drive interest to his twitter account too.
After the dust settles, there is a lesson to be made here; from brands, talent agencies, music labels and influencer marketing companies: if you can earn the love and respect from a global community such as the ‘Fangirl’ demographic – you can rally them together to drive awareness for any cause even if its to take a random kid from unknown to stardom over night.
But what happens to Alex now? Did anyone in Breakr Nation think of that or is the next step in the social media experiment to watch this kid crash and burn spectacularly while Corbyn Besson strums his guitar and squeaks out some syllables about puberty? Maybe that’s just part of the bugs in the beta test, and the fangirls will figure it all out next time when that “cause” can be monetized more effectively. In the meantime, live it up, Alex from Target. Life is short, but being an Internet celebrity is way shorter.