#AlexFromTarget: Overnight Sensation Epitomizes the Power of Internet

Last week, a teenage Target employee named Alex became internet famous overnight. 16-year-old Alex Lee was bagging items at the checkout when fellow Texas teen Brooklyn Reiff snapped a photo and sent it into the interweb. The picture became so widely popular that news stations, magazines, and even famous comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres acknowledged the phenomenon.   #AlexFromTarget- EllenPublicity company Breakr nation claims to be responsible for creating the marketing strategy behind the viral sensation, though both Alex Lee and the Twitter user @auscalum who reposted the photo from Brooklyn assert that they had no prior knowledge of the company.   Breakr Nation CEO Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares said:  
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 sensation
Twitter user @auscalum shared the photo after stumbling upon it on Tumblr. The image began gaining traction, with thousands of retweets and favorites over the course of 24 hours.        On the "The Ellen Degeneres Show," Alex claimed the picture came to his knowledge only after the store manager showed him the post. He also mentioned that his Twitter followers went from 144 to over 550,000 because of the trend.  Despite Breakr Nation's claiming responsibility for the campaign, there is no other evidence suggesting the success of #AlexFromTarget was all their doing. The company asserted that they promoted the #AlexFromTarget hashtag by mobilizing their followers, which is strange since they only possess a mere 1,462.     It seems likely that Breakr could have provided the impetus for the viral success by posting the picture on Tumblr, but the exponential growth of posting stemmed from the excited fangirls who were smitten by the handsome employee.  Even Target got in on the action: Regardless of whether or not #AlexFromTarget was a marketing ploy, the success of this campaign poses an interesting question. How can brands and companies leverage the group conformity of the young, impressionable teenage fangirl demographic to push their campaigns? This segmented audience has proven to be extremely effective in harnessing widespread social media attention. Perhaps this demographic should be given more content to push out on their respective platforms? After all, they managed to make a Target employee from Texas a viral phenomenon and overnight celebrity.  **Written by Marketing intern Aneesha Joshi, International Relations intern at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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A tribute to Thomas Menino

Menino 6 Mayor Menino’s love and devotion to the City of Boston has shown through the numerous tributes and kind words spread throughout the nation. Former Mayor Thomas Menino, who rose to his position in 1993, served an unprecedented 5-term tenure as a long-time figure of strength, community improvement and action. Despite his common refrain that a mayor didn’t need a grand vision to lead, Manino constantly acted as a purveyor of change and development through his neighborhood revitalization projects that shaped Boston’s skyline and countless other initiatives. img1195A Menino died at the age of 71 after battling late-stage cancer as he was leaving office from his former role. Despite ongoing health complications, he stayed active in Boston’s community even after retirement, recently heading a project for Boston University’s Initiatives on Cities. The program aimed to take a comprehensive look at how metropolitan areas’ most pressing social issues could benefit from academically backed solutions. Current Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, of his predecessor:
No man possessed a greater love for our city, and his dedicated life in service to Boston and her people changed the face of the city. With sheer determination and unmatched work ethic, he took a city that is not as big in size as we are in stature and put us on the world stage as a national leader in health care, education, innovation, and the nitty gritty of executing basic city services.
Thousands of others shared in their condolences and respect for Menino’s contributions. President Obama made a statement earlier today, thanking the former mayor for his pragmatic approach:
As Boston’s longest-serving mayor, Tom helped make his hometown the vibrant, welcoming, world-class place it is today. His legacy lives on in every neighborhood he helped revitalize, every school he helped turn around, and every community he helped make a safer, better place to live.
Locals, politicians, athletes and radio hosts took to twitter to share some of their personal sentiments and memories of the long-time leader: Boston Red Sox Soccer player Greg Cunningham: Fox News Reporter Ted Daniel: Local radio station JAM’N 94.5 DJ Maverik: Politician Ralf S. Rho: Early on in his career, Mayor Menino said he wanted “to help people, help one individual a day. Just to make their life a little bit better.” The overpowering amount of support, condolences and fond memories shared throughout the nation has shown that Thomas Menino has helped countless individuals and changed the lives of many, both within and outside of the city he has led for so many dedicated years. Menino 8 Although Mayor Menino opened his first mayoral speech in 1994 by saying “I’m not a fancy talker,” his accent never stopped him from sharing poignant and wise words wherever he went. Here are a few of Menino’s best, as mentioned in the Boston Globe:
  • “Like people who give great speeches are great public officials? I mean, just look at the officials who give great speeches — they haven’t done a thing in their career, but they just look good or sound good.”
  • “I didn’t learn anything sitting in this room. I’d rather be out there, talking to the people. This job, my legacy, is about the people.”
  • “Throughout my whole career I have tried to be an open door to people left out of the mainstream.”
  • “Visionaries don’t get things done.”
  • “This is Boston, a city with the courage, compassion, and strength that knows no bounds.”
Rest in Peace, Mayor Menino.   **Written by Elise Yancey, Public Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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Taco Bell #OnlyInTheApp: A New Kind of Social Media Marketing

tacobell-tumblr-dark-800x305 On Tuesday, October 28th, Taco Bell made a bold social media marketing move to black out all of its social channels. FacebookInstagramTumblr, Snapchat, Google+ and Twitter were all closed, only leaving up a short message directing users to download its new mobile app and use the hashtag #OnlyInTheApp. The aim of this blackout was to move social media attention to its new mobile app which is capable of online ordering. According to Senior Director of Digital Marketing Tressie Lieberman:
We wanted to make sure that our fans were the people who found out about this first. We wanted to break through with a message that gets them excited and talking.
Taking a strikingly different approach than the social media driven marketing methods of the modern age, this marketing campaign drives followers away from its social channels in an effort to get them on the app. The aim is to get users' curiosity is sparked, and drive a more impactful call-to-action. Taco Bell Insta Blackout Users are abuzz following the blackout: The strategy has managed to land major successes for Taco Bell, with its mobile app gaining the title of the "22nd most downloaded app for iOS users in the United States." App Annie, an app ranking data and high quality mobile analytics service, indicated that the Taco Bell app jumped from the 60th position to the 1st in the food and drink category. What's more, the app currently holds the #1 spot on App Annie's free apps chart, outranking Google Maps, Spotify, Twitter, and Gmail. taco_bell The Taco Bell blackout without a doubt has gotten the social media audience talking, and proves that a brave move (like sacrificing nearly 1.4 million twitter followers) can sometime work in your favor. The minimal approach is refreshing, inspiring, and effective-for sure.   **Written by Marketing intern Aneesha Joshi, International Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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Roger Goodell Gets Tackled: The NFL Domestic Abuse Scandal

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How could the NFL, with arguably one of the most sophisticated PR departments in the world, handle a social media fiasco so poorly?  Fans were enraged over the actions of Ray Rice and the lack of response from NFL. At 451 Marketing, we had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar on Social Media Crisis Management: Lessons from the NFL, on this very issue.

Here are a few key points that I took away:

Bad news gets worse the longer it takes to come out - NFL officials were reluctant to admit that they had seen the video before it was leaked.  It took 10 days for Goodell to respond to the crisis and hold a press conference.  This is an unacceptable amount of time to address such a controversial and sensitive issue.  To many, the damage was already done.  This hurt the NFL's credibility and made its job of getting its views heard that much harder. Beware of the “Rolling Thunder”- It is usually best to break up a big announcement into a few smaller ones.  A bigger announcement, like Goodell’s press conference, addressed all the issues at once.  This can be overwhelming and leaves room for heavy scrutiny.  Smaller announcements allow the public to get the main ideas and digest it easier. Know what is being said - There were a lot negative comments flying about on the Internet in response to the NFL and its mishandling of the Ray Rice scandal. Although the NFL could not foresee the leak of the video, daily scans of keywords is a good way to see the ratio of positive comments vs. negative comments and help to predict future crises.


Appearances matter- The delivery of any message is key, especially when it is an apology.  Although Goodell said all the right things, his delivery was insincere and lacked emotion.  This led many to not believe his apology and take his words seriously.


Don’t censor comments - Just because there is negative content floating around doesn’t mean it should be censored.  People are expressing their views and they are upset—you can’t deny them of that.  Language should only be censored when words turn foul.

Know your audience and be sensitive to their issues - Domestic violence is an extremely sensitive issue, especially when almost half of the NFL fan base is female.  The NFL’s initial reaction to Ray Rice’s violence was seen as unsympathetic to the issue of domestic violence.


Utilize social media in a positive manner- Many people were expressing their views on the Ray Rice scandal via Twitter and Facebook.  This doesn’t have to be a place strictly for negative attention.  The Facebook page, NFL 12th Man, was a place where positive messages about the NFL could be shared.  This helped the league’s image.  It is also important to post third party content that helps support your cause.   In conclusion, following these guidelines can help to prevent and control any media crises that may arise.  From the NFL’s handling of the situation we are able to analyze and see what is most effective and what we may want to avoid if ever in a similar situation.   ** Written by Consumer PR intern Kelly O’Connor, Lesley University (Class of 2015)

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The Phone War Continues: Samsung Taunts Apple with Slew of Social Media Jabs

 Samsung 2Samsung’s latest online messages are taking prisoners, and its crosshairs are set on Apple.

It started out with a simple tweet:

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Long known as one of Apple’s biggest competitors, Samsung wasted no time in responding to the software company’s #Bendgate catastrophe. With the iPhone 6 Plus’s ongoing hardware issues, Samsung took the opportunity to highlight its own (purposefully) curved GALAXY Note Edge. The device, which will be available to US customers later this month, has a 5.6-inch screen with a slightly arched right edge.

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While other brands, such as Kit Kat, Slim Jim, and Heineken, created singular, good-natured responses, Samsung didn’t just stop at one stinging remark. For the past few weeks, the company has taken no sympathy on Apple, launching a full-on social media campaign surrounding Apple’s unfortunate circumstances. The technology company’s message is clear: Apple’s brand image has become shaky, and Samsung is going for a full knockout.

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Always looking for opportunities when Apple is ripe for ridicule, Samsung recently took its message off social media and onto Youtube, using Twitter users’ messages in a new video to mock its competitor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxhSnNZH3Rk#t=13 Though the company’s relentless stream of strikes and blows seems (at the very least) a little callous and (at its worst) incredibly cringe-worthy, the company is no stranger to caustic competitor marketing: The brand has been taking sly hits at Apple ever since 2010. Past ads have criticized Apple’s senseless product release lines, lack of product features, flawed hardware and slow-to-catch-up technology as weak points for the rival. Even before the iPhone 6 launched, the brand decided to take a Steve Jobs quote and use his input to its own advantage:

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Samsung has clearly mastered how to connect its own brand to other companies’ news and persistently insert itself into relevant conversations. As we wait for what scathing comments the company will release next, take a look at a roundup of the brand’s past real-time responses (compiled by The Verge): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNxDd3l0lEU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCnB5azFmTs


**Written by Elise Yancey, Public Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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