A wildly-popular Instagram account for a construction worker influencer, who made headlines after earning over 430,000 followers in just five weeks has been revealed as a clever marketing stunt set up in order to promote a coffee shop, sparking anger from his most dedicated fans.
The @justaconstructionguy account, which was said to be run by an Austin-based father called Omar, proved to be an immediate hit with social media users the world over, particularly after it was posted on Twitter by a woman claiming to be his daughter.
Posting under the name Barbara L., the woman said that her father, Omar, had set up the account in order to prove that anyone can be an influencer, after asking his daughter what the term meant.
However, that sweet story that so quickly captured the hearts of nearly half a million Instagram users, has now been revealed as nothing more than a clever fabrication created in order to promote Austin-based shop Cuvee Coffee.
Busted! Wildly-popular Instagram account @justaconstructionguy has been revealed as nothing more than a marketing stunt to promote Austin-based coffee store Cuvee Coffee
Hints: Although the account featured a variety of pictures, there were several with tags that promoted Cuvee Coffee
Ad: The account, which claimed to be run by a construction worker called Omar, has soared in popularity over the last month, earning more than 430,000 followers in a matter of weeks
As reported by Buzzfeed News, Cuvee Coffee owner Mike McKim confessed to being the brains behind the @justaconstructionguy account, revealing that the idea was dreamed up during a ‘creative brainstorming session’.
‘The whole idea was what we always thought as an influencer, and what we used as an influencer in the past, they don’t always fit our brand,’ he told the website of the motivation behind the account.
‘We need a different type of influencer: a hard-worker, blue-collar guy.’
McKim went on to reveal that he worked with a local advertising agency, Bandolier Media, in order to set up the account, adding that the man who features as its face is in fact a construction worker – however he sadly had very little to do with the account creation, other than posing for its posts, a number of which feature coffee and tags for Cuvee Coffee.
The coffee shop owner refused to reveal Omar’s last name, and he also insisted that he was not responsible for the tweet from Barbara L. under the username @barbzlovescarbs, nor does he know who was behind it. That Twitter account has now been made private.
Although the account is fake, McKim explained that it was inspired by his customers – many of whom are actually construction workers ‘in hard hats and vests’.
‘We started talking about construction guys, and so [Bandolier Media] reached out to Omar and said, “Do you want to have some fun?” McKim revealed to Buzzfeed News.
Cheers! Even the images that featured coffee prominently were taken in the same parody style intended to mock traditional influencers
Fooled you: One of the first images posted on the account featured a perfectly-poured latte, along with a caption gushing about ‘the fine folks at Cuvee Coffee’ being ‘good sports’
‘And he said, “What’s social media? Instagram? Huh?” He said, “I don’t know how to do it,” so we said, “All right, we’ll help you; let’s just have some fun with it.”‘
The coffee shop owner added that Omar received monetary compensation for taking part in a professional shoot, but has not been paid in any way beyond that. He also revealed that the team behind the account had only ever hoped to reach around 1,000 followers – a relatively-tiny number in comparison with their current fan base.
That number is also a great deal higher than Cuvee Coffee’s official account, which boasts just 16,500 fans, although that number may change after McKim was revealed as the brains behind the stunt.
For his part, the coffee shop owner seems delighted with the success of his marketing campaign, sharing a photo of himself and Omar to the Cuvee Coffee account, along with the caption: ‘In case you haven’t heard, our friend Omar (@justaconstructionguy), has picked up a few more followers.
‘And by a few, we mean 369,000. Yep, he’s internet famous now, and couldn’t be more deserving.’
It remains to be seen whether the true purpose of the account will cause followers to flee, however it is currently still increasing, despite the fact that the heavily-posed shots showing Omar holding and splashing cups of coffee have now been revealed as nothing more than an ad campaign.
So far, follower responses have been mixed; some people are continuing to praise the account – a number of whom appear to be unaware of its true origins – while others have hit out at Cuvee Coffee, accusing McKim of taking advantage of Instagram users.
Regular guy? The bio for the account described Omar as a ‘coffee lover’
The instigator: Omar’s popularity soared after his account was posted on Twitter by a woman claiming to be his daughter, who said that he wanted to prove he could become an influencer
Revealed: Cuvee Coffee owner Mike McKim (left) confessed to being the brains behind the account, which features Omar (right) as its face
‘I can’t believe y’all are still trying to put a positive spin on this,’ one person commented. ‘Just admit you cynically preyed on people to make money and then hope another company f***s up worse than you and shifts the internet’s ire.’
Another added: ‘This fake stunt that you guys did was so disappointing. Wonder what else you guys lie about,’ while one person then chimed in: ‘I followed @justaconstructionguy because I thought a regular guy was going against the grain and obnoxious social media attempts to sell things people don’t want. Not to help your company make money via an ad campaign.’
Others pointed out that the main reason people were so keen to follow Omar was because he seemed so wholesome and genuine – unlike many other people on the internet – and noted that the reality of the stunt totally took away from that.
‘This is frustrating because he blew up because of the tweet and because he was doing this to sass his daughter,’ one follower wrote. ‘Not to help make you money. Totally takes away from the wholesomeness of Omar. Unfollowing immediately.’
However others were slightly more sympathetic, and even complimentary, about the stunt, with one person telling McKim and his team, ‘Well played,’ while one user went as far as to say: ‘You guys beat to your own drum, have always loved that about you. Simple, honest. Keep up the great work.’
‘The initial intention was to create a new breed of influencers and it looks like Omar is having fun,’ another wrote. ‘He was given an opportunity (as most influencers try to do) and his daughter helped him find his feet. I see nothing wrong here.’
Other than the cups ‘o Joe that regularly feature on the account, there are also several other hints about its true purpose; in Omar’s (fake) bio, he describes himself as a ‘coffee lover’ as well as being ‘in construction’, while several of the posts include Cuvee Coffee tags.
Joker: According to McKim, the man featured on the account is in fact called Omar and does work in construction, however other than posing for pictures he has little to do with Instagram
Model: Omar was paid to take part in a professional photo shoot, McKim told Buzzfeed News, however other than that he has not received any other monetary compensation
One of the first posts shared on the account shows a man holding a perfectly-poured coffee in a thermos cap, and featured the gushing caption: ‘Coffee art in a thermos cap? Might be a first! Thanks to fine folks at @cuveecoffee for being good sports.’
Another photo shows Omar posing outside of Cuvee Cofee in his hard hat and vest while holding a cup of espresso. That image was captioned: ‘When your work neighbors have the best coffee in town,’ and the location was listed as Cuvee Coffee.
‘The whole genesis started with the construction around us, which led to to construction workers being in our coffee shop,’ McKim explained about the reason for choosing a construction worker as the star of his Instagram account.
‘Let’s create the influencers – I shouldn’t say create… let’s find the influencer – that we couldn’t find. We pay them to make posts for us. That was the goal.’
Ironically, McKim added that he felt the need to dream up the perfect influencer because ‘sometimes traditional influencers don’t feel genuine’, leading him and his advertising agency to dream up the vision of the perfect Instagram star.
Bandolier Media has yet to comment on the account and it is unclear whether the agency was responsible for the tweet that originally sparked the popularity of the account.
The tweet, which was posted in mid-May, read: ‘My dad asked me what an influencer was, and after I explained he said, “Pssh, I could do that.” Well… he did. The best part is he works in construction.’
Prank: McKim worked with Austin advertising agency Bandolier Media in order to create the account, which he says was inspired by the many construction workers who frequent his store
Fake it until you make it! The coffee shop owner explained that his aim was originally to rack up just 1,000 followers – a paltry number in comparison with the current fan base
Subtle: Although the account was set up to promote coffee, there are plenty of posed parody posts in which the brand and its products are not featured
She included screengrabs from his Instagram account, @justaconstructionguy, in which Omar is described as ‘in construction,’ a ‘father & husband,’ a ‘coffee lover,’ and a ‘lifestyle influencer’ from Austin, Texas.
By then, he’d already shared several photos, staged similarly to how Instagram influencers pose for their pages.
Except rather than model clothes or stand in front incredible scenes in far-off destinations, Omar was pictured in his construction gear, hard at work or on coffee breaks.
In an early post, Omar posed in his neon vest with a tool belt around his waist, seemingly laughing at people off camera.
‘The boys were giving me c*** cause I’m a model/influencer now,’ he captioned the post.
In another, he smoked a cigar after a hard day’s work, while another shows him shooting pool with a can of beer by his side.
Followers have liked his pictures tens of thousands of times each, leaving supportive comments telling Omar how fun his page is.
‘You have killed the influencer game. It’s killed. Everyone else can stop now,’ wrote one.
‘Next stop… “Just a Construction Guy” merch,’ joked another.