A construction guy named Omar in Austin, Texas, became an “Instagram influencer” recently after attracting hundreds of thousands of followers to his @justaconstructionguy account with just a handful of photos. But it turns out the guy was a carefully crafted persona designed to help a small coffee shop sell coffee.
After being created in May, the account shot to Insta-stardom when it was Tweeted out by Twitter user @barbzlovescarbs, who purported to be Omar’s daughter.
In his photos and captions, Omar was apparently an ordinary construction worker who had a knack for poking fun at Instagram’s exploding “influencer” culture:
But not all is as it seems.
The coffee roaster Cuvée Coffee in Austin finally revealed that the whole thing is actually a clever marketing stunt that resulted from 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,” owner Mike McKim tells BuzzFeed News. “We need a different type of influencer: a hard-worker, blue-collar guy.”
McKim enlisted the help of the advertising agency Bandolier Media, which helped him to create “Omar”, a fake influencer persona who’s played by an actual Austin-area construction worker. @cuveecoffee is tagged in several of Omar’s posts. After the @barbzlovescarbs Tweet, things just took off, spreading through social media and sites like Reddit.
McKim says his initial goal was to get @justaconstructionguy to 1,000 followers, a number he would consider a “home run.” At the time of this writing, @justaconstructionguy has over 528,000 followers.