Everyone who daily gets commands from the corner office or from clients to launch viral campaigns is trying to crack the code of success behind the #alexfromtarget Twitter hashtag. Even the New York Times got into the act, putting its reporting weight into solving the mystery of why a 16-year-old Target employee named Alex Laboeuf, who just a few days ago had 144 Twitter followers, now has 658,000 followers.
It all started, according to the Times, on Nov. 2 when "a young woman named Abbie" posted a photograph on Twitter of Alex on the job at Target. The photo and hashtag caught fire, and within two days Alex was a guest on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Target claims no responsibility for #alexfromtarget, although on Nov. 3 the company wrote on Twitter, "We heart Alex, too! #alexfromtarget". CNET reported that a company named Breakr was claiming to be the engine behind the viral success of #alexfromtarget, but this may be akin to a fictitious radical group in the 1970s taking credit for a hijacking.
Target, and Alex, are the beneficiaries of #alexfromtarget, and meanwhile everyone else is wondering what lessons can be learned from its wildfire nature, beyond acknowledging the raging hormonal force of teenagers.
Taking the cynical view that this was a staged campaign—or even assuming that it was a random, unplanned event—timing would be the most important takeaway. The nation's focus has been centered on the stress and anger of the midterm elections—the perfect moment for a sweet and empty antidote like #alexfromtarget.
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