The marketing world learned a few lessons from the overnight phenomenon that became #AlexFromTarget. On Oct 26, a photo was posted on Twitter of an attractive young checkout clerk at Target. The photo caught on and within a few days the hashtag #AlexFromTarget had over 46,000 mentions and Alex – a teenager from Frisco, TX – increased Twitter followers to over 500,000. Alex rose to weird internet fame that had the media aflutter and even scored him a spot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
While Target wasn’t behind Alex’s web stardom and nothing has been announced about the brand trying to capitalize on the attention, other brands have taken advantage of the following certain web stars have built online. Here are a few web star and brand partnerships that are paving the way for this type of relationship.
Web Star: Shaun “Shonduras” McBride
Brands: Taco Bell, Major League Soccer, Disney
Shaun McBride – better known as “Shonduras” – has built a solid following on Snapchat for his intricate and clever drawings. The artist from Utah has achieved a bit of cult status that has even captured the attention of certain teen idols like Kevin Jonas.
The young demographic that uses Snapchat is watching for Shonduras next move – or ‘snap’ – and brands have taken notice. The mobile web star has signed deals – sometimes for as much as $30,000 – with brands like Taco Bell, Major League Soccer, and Disney. These brands like the idea that Shonduras is speaking the teen and young adults language and are willing to pay him for his connections.
Web Star: Grumpy Cat
The Internet has always had a fondness for cats, but one feline in particular has taken over social media. Grumpy Cat – real name Tardar Sauce – has spawned memes and an online following bigger than anyone could have imagined. Grumpy Cat shot to meme infamy after the owner’s brother posted a photo of her frowny mug on Reddit. A few memes were made and the rest is history.
The Internet sensation soon drew the attention of brands including, of course, pet food brand Friskies. Little Tardar Sauce – who suffers from a form of feline dwarfism – has appeared in several commercials for the brand.
Web Star: Bethany Mota
The just recently turned 19-year-old Bethany Mota is a prime example of how the YouTube community can propel someone to celebrity status. When she was just 13, Mota began posting videos to YouTube as a distraction from the bullying she was experiencing. Fast forward a few years, and Mota has built a following of over 7 million subscribers on YouTube, 2 million followers on Twitter, and 4 million followers on Instagram.
This Mota attention from brands. Aside from her own projects like making music and a perfume, the YouTuber is pushing two different brand lines with Aeropostale – a home décor and a fashion line. Mota doesn’t release figures on how much she earns, but between all her endeavors the teenager has certainly built a little empire off her web stardom.
Web Star: Jared Chambers
Brands: Nike, Toms, Lincoln
LA-based freelance photographer Jared Chambers wasn’t an early adopter of the Instagram platform. He joined in 2012 after wanting to document a trip he was on. Chambers is the case of talent winning out because his scenic and minimalistic photos on the platform quickly won him a solid following – the photographer now has over 300,000 followers on Instagram.
In early 2013, after being on the platform for a relatively short time, Nike approached Chambers to do a branded run in San Francisco. After that first brand partnership, Chambers now approaches brands on his own and has struck deals with shoe brand Toms and car brand Lincoln.
Web star: Michelle Phan
Brands: Lancome, L’Oreal
What would a piece about web stars be without Michelle Phan? With more than 7 million subscribers, the make-up demonstrator is one of the most popular people on Youtube. What began in 2006 as a personal blog transformed into a make-up tutorial channel with over a billion video views.
Once Phan’s personal brand began to take off, beauty brands clamored to work with Phan. In 2010, Lancome made Phan their official video make-up artist after she used some Lancome products in her videos. And in 2013, Phan and L’Oreal teamed up for a cosmetic line called ‘EM by Michelle Phan.’ The idea behind ‘EM’ was that it is a reflection of the word ‘me,’ which is how Phan feels make-up should be used.