Nathan Allebach doesn't consult a formula, research keywords or track online trends before he hits "send" on one of his tweets. That would, in a lot of ways, defeat the point of his abstract craft. Sometimes, he bolts awake in the middle of the night with a genius idea for a truly dumb shitpost. Other times, he lets loose his views on the world while stuck in a mid-day doldrum.
On September 26th, the 27-year-old published a tweet thread underlining his reflections on why young people feel so alone online and in their physical lives — only he did so as Steak-umm, the East Coast frozen steak brand noted for its use in discount Philly cheesesteaks.
The seven tweets got nearly 100,000 combined likes. And all of a sudden, everyone was talking about Steak-umm. Over the course of a year, Allebach has ushered this family-owned frozen steak company into Twitter fame, jumping from 4,600 followers in December to nearly 36,000 today. Plenty of brands — think Wendy’s, Moon Pie and Denny’s — have gone viral by taking on a bizarre or confrontational voice to appeal to the teens. But the Steak-umm Twitter account has elevated this to an art form, sometimes trying to sell you meat, and sometimes just tweeting bullshit that has nothing to do with meat.
This evolution of a brand is happening through a guy who never had aspirations in marketing, preferring to play and record music with a series of small bands. But a bad breakdown with anxiety and depression in his early 20s and some soul-searching led him, in classic millennial fashion, to his father's ad agency, Allebach Communications, for a glorified unpaid internship. "He knew I'd used social media to promote myself and my art. I just kind of fell into it like that. It didn't really resonate with me at all, to be honest. I felt like I was just doing it as a job, and I had a lot of privileged guilt about it because it was my dad's agency," Allebach says.