Internet Pranksters Hijack Walmart's Facebook Campaign

Walmart's Facebook campaign for Energy Sheets, a caffeinated equivalent to Listerine strips, promises to send rapper Pitbull to the Walmart store with the most likes on Facebook. But what happens if the Walmart store with the most likes is on a tiny Alaskan island, accessible only by plane or ferry?  

The campaign to send American rapper Pitbull to the Alaskan island Kodiak was hatched by David Thorpe and Jon Hendren, two writers of the comedic Internet culture website Something Awful, on June 29.

"Pitbull is having a contest where he'll visit the local Walmart that gets the most FB Likes. @fart and I are sending him to Kodiak, Alaska," wrote Thorpe on Twitter. Thorpe's tweet was shared more than 700 times before being posted on Reddit, where it shot to the front page and kicked off a frenzy of Facebook likes. 

To date, more than 62,000 people have liked the Facebook page for Walmart store 2711 in Kodiak, Ala., population 6,130, according to the 2010 census. Even though the campaign to send Pitbull to Kodiak started as a joke by writers known for making fun of everything - Thorpe is encouraging his fans to use the hashtag #exilepitbull - Kodiak Walmart employees have embraced the prank and very much want Pitbull to visit them.

"We’d love to have Pitbull visit us. The weather is better here this time of year anyway," wrote a Walmart Kodiak employee on a group shot of the staff holding a Pitbull banner on their Facebook page. "Thanks for your support - did you know that Kodiak is actually a real fun town! It’s just that some of our ‘party animals’ happen to be bears, moose, seals, eagles and fish" reads another employee comment. (The Kodiak Walmart sells hunting supplies, bear repellent and snow shoes.) 

Pitbull, on the other hand, doesn't seem nearly as thrilled about visiting the tiny frozen island, rather, he's expressed a desire to go to Miami instead with a #keeppitbull305 hashtag. (That Walmart store only has 909 likes.) The rapper has been a good sport throughout the whole thing though, tweeting at Thorpe to join him in Alaska if he does end up there. 

Jon Hendren admitted to ReadWriteWeb he wasn't expecting this kind of community response, saying "I think we joked that it might get a few thousand if we're really lucky, and maybe [W]almart's marketing people would hold an emergency meeting or something, tops." As for all the media attention, from NPR, CNN, to Mashable, Hendren called it "scary," before adding "I'm about 20% sure that if Dave [Thorpe] goes along to Alaska, he will be eaten by a bear or hit with an errant tranq dart."