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Target Has A New, Completely Unofficial Mascot And His Name Is Alex

A random store employee becomes an online meme.

Target Has A New, Completely Unofficial Mascot And His Name Is Alex

Target’s official mascot is a bull terrier named Bulleye. But this weekend the retailer woke up to find out the Internet had picked another spokesperson for the brand, and brands and people everywhere woke to a lightning fast lesson in the breakneck pace of “culture.” Meet Alex.

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That tweet–based on a photo from Twitter user @auscalum, who later denied ownership of the image–apparently started a chain reaction of swooning girls and web jokers passing this teenager’s photo around the globe, trying to figure out who he is and rallying to make him a bizarre meme within a few hours.

Then obviously international media picked up on the story, including CNN, Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail. Even Alex himself has apparently emerged. But strangely, in this new marketing world of real-time everything, there was no word or even a wink-wink from Target itself. Still, its marketing brain trust was undoubtedly looking at this with some interest.

In a statement to Co.Create, Target said: “Usually our new weekly ad is what gets people tweeting on Sundays. So imagine our surprise yesterday when one of our Target team members managed to flood the Internet with images of red and khaki without even trying. We are proud to have a great team, including #AlexFromTarget, and are in contact with his store and family. We will keep you posted if he is available for comment, but for now, we would ask you to respect his privacy.”

Some would argue Target should jump in with both feet and start using the hype around Alex as an advertising advantage. Calmer heads may suggest allowing the organic chatter to continue and run its own course.

Whether it plans an attempt to tap into the meme as a marketing opportunity or not, it better act quickly. Just eight hours after the first picture appeared, the tide may have begun to turn.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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