Influencer marketing is no stranger to the specialty coffee world. Many iconic elements of today’s café culture were defined and spread through popular Instagram accounts. One coffee company has gone a step further by creating their own influencer, a middle-aged father and construction worker, and racked up more than a half million followers in a matter of days.
Mike McKim, owner of Cuvée Coffee in Austin, Texas, worked with PR team Bandolier Media to find a “construction worker lifestyle influencer” and lassoed in their long-time general contractor Omar Madani to be the featured personality of @JustaConstructionGuy. The feed featured many stereotypical influencer images infused with a tongue-in-cheek construction worker take on influencer culture (flat lays of an orange vest and hardhat, leather gloved hand holding, a thermos filled with latte art). After the account was featured on several meme aggregator feeds, including @barbzlovescarbs (where a post insinuated that Omar was the account runner’s father) and @middleclassfancy, Omar racked up hundreds of thousands of followers in less than a week.
McKim spoke with BuzzFeed after it came to light that @JustaConstructionGuy was part of a marketing scheme for Cuvée. He told the outlet that Omar is compensated for the professional photo shoots, but every other aspect, from conception to posting and marketing, were handled by Bandolier. Additional news outlets have since covered the story, including Vice, Mashable, New York Post, and Inside Edition, helping to propel the story even further. The questionable authenticity of the posts and reality-blurring marketing efforts have, at least momentarily, captured the attention of the internet.