Alex from Target is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, but he may have a Los Angeles-based start-up marketing firm to thank for it all.
Calling it "one of the most amazing social media experiments ever," Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares, the CEO of Breakr, claimed his company was behind getting the hashtag #AlexFromTarget tweeted 1.5 million times within the past two days. "We wanted to see how powerful the fangirl demographic was by taking an unknown good-looking kid and Target employee from Texas to overnight viral internet sensation," Leonares wrote in a LinkedIn post.
According to the company's website, Breakr aims to "connect fans to their fandom."
Target, however, had nothing to do with the social networking test, saying in a statement to USA Today, "The Target team was as surprised as anyone."
Breakr took to their Twitter on Tuesday to clear up the claims that they had hired @iauscalum, the Twitter user that originally posted the photo, for their marketing ploy. "Apologies for any confusion tonight, @iauscalum was not working for us but we did help promote the picture with the #alexfromtarget," the tweet read.
Apologies for any confusion tonight, @iauscalum was not working for us but we did help promote the picture with the #alexfromtarget— Breakr (@BreakrNation) November 5, 2014
We were never trying to steal the spotlight from her, that being said we want to thank everyone who was a part of #alexfromtarget— Breakr (@BreakrNation) November 5, 2014
Alex himself also tweeted following the LinkedIn post, writing: "Apparently there is a company trying to take credit for how the pic taken of me went viral. My family and I have never heard of this company. I didn't know the pic was taken or tweeted until my store manager showed me."
Apparently there is a company trying to take credit for how the pic taken of me went viral.— DGM_Alex (@acl163) November 5, 2014
On Wednesday's Ellen DeGeneres Show, Alex Lee chats with the daytime host about his overnight fame, and how he came to find out about his hashtag. "My [store] manager came up to me and she showed me the actual picture. I thought it was fake," he said. "Yeah. And then about an hour later these random girls I've never met before came in and showed me my twitter page and it had like 5,000 more followers and I was just really confused."
Alex went from 144 followers to, as of now, 589,000 Twitter followers. When asked if he feels pressure to tweet like a celebrity, the teen answered, "Oh My G-d. I don’t even know what to say. I just feel so pressured. Like they’re waiting…"
He joked, "I mean I can apparently bag groceries pretty well."
Before #AlexFromTarget took off, the "Potty-Mouth Princess" video was going viral and causing some controversy. ET spoke with the makers of the PSA.