Ever since a picture of a male Target employee went viral last Sunday, social media users from all over have been asking one question: who is Alex from Target?
Alex Laboeuf, as he is better known by friends and family, is a 16-year-old from Texas who works as a cashier at Target and happened to catch the eye of a female customer who was taken by his resemblance to the young pop star Justin Beiber. The customer took a picture of Alex and then proceeded to share his photo on Twitter with the hashtag #Alexfromtarget.
The photo spread like wildfire, and Alex from Target, as he became known on social media, became an overnight Internet sensation. Even amidst the critical election that took place on Tuesday, the media jumped on board the Alex from Target train and made him the subject of their news stories. He was even flown out to Los Angeles on Tuesday to make an appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
Many people have been wondering how Alex from Target rose to Internet stardom so quickly, questioning whether or not Target had anything to do with it. Target was quick to reject any claims that it was involved with the photo stunt, saying that they were just as surprised at the sudden popularity of their young worker as anyone else.
In a surprising twist to the story, CNET reported Tuesday evening that Breakr, a start-up marketing company, was taking responsibility for the Alex from Target craze. The young company, whose goal is “helping connect fans to their fandom,” claimed in a post on LinkedIn that they “wanted to see how powerful the fan girl demographic was by taking an unknown good-looking kid and Target employee from Texas to overnight viral Internet sensation,” according to The New York Times.
The news of a potential marketing hoax prompted Target to issue another statement, saying that it had nothing to do with the proliferation of the photo and that it had no connection to Breakr whatsoever. The young employee also denied any involvement in any sort of publicity stunt.
The two girls credited with taking the picture and posting it on the Internet also said that they were not part of a hoax, leading Breakr to update is LinkedIn post to clarify that the girls were not involved and that it “occurred organically and the company “jumped on it” to draw attention to its services,” as reported by the The New York Times.
Whether or not Breakr had anything to do with Alex from Target’s rise to fame, the recent events go to show just how powerful the Internet can be.