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That Viral Construction Worker 'Influencer' Account Is Actually a Marketing Stunt

It's a little too easy to mock social media influencers who go to insane lengths to cultivate an effortlessly cool version of their life for Instagram...

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It's a little too easy to mock social media influencers who go to insane lengths to cultivate an effortlessly cool-looking version of their life for Instagram. Still, love them or hate them, it's hard work courting a bunch of followers and engagement by curating a grid of perfectly composed shots of you living your #bestlife.

Or maybe it isn't. A construction worker in Texas hilariously set out to prove to his daughter that even he had the chops to become an influencer, then went viral and amassed nearly 400,000 Instagram followers in a month. 

The only problem? The entire operation was actually just a clever marketing stunt orchestrated by a local coffee company, according to new reporting by BuzzFeed News.

In recent days, the account @justaconstructionguy, created by a dude named Omar has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers after a tweet from someone claiming to be his daughter spread wildly across social media. The tweet, which features screenshots of their "dad" Omar's account and a brief explanation of why he created it, was shared by a number of popular meme accounts on Instagram and catapulted the @justaconstructionguy account into viral territory.

However, BuzzFeed News discovered the entire delightfully charming narrative -- including the existence of any daughter at all -- is false. Rather, the account was dreamed up by the owner of an Austin area coffee shop, who had the idea for it during a recent 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," Mike McKim, owner of Austin’s Cuvée Coffee, told BN. "We need a different type of influencer: a hard-worker, blue collar guy."

McKim teamed up with the ad agency Bandolier Media to create the account. And while the Omar featured in it is indeed an actual working construction guy in Austin, the persona isn’t real. Bandolier reached out to local construction workers who frequently stop into Cuvée Coffee and recruited Omar, who apparently didn’t know the first thing about social media but was game to “have some fun.” He doesn’t make any money off the partnership, though he does get paid for participating in the photo shoots. 

So, who is the person claiming to be his daughter? McKim claims he has no idea. The account that Tweeted out the now-famous post responsible for much of @justaconstructionguy’s popularity has since been made private. 

And while the whole point of this fake influencer ruse was to drum up attention for the coffee shop, McKim told BN that the modest goal was to get the account to 1,000 followers.

"This has taken a life of its own," he said. "None of us expected this. I think it's super cool. We're all having fun with it."

Although everyone — including Thrillist — wanted to believe Omar was real and that his hilarious little influencer experiment was real, there are a few details that jump out now that the truth has been uncovered. For instance, Cuvée Coffee is tagged in several of the posts, and some of of the captions include #sponcon tags. Also, as BuzzFeed News points out, the extremely high quality photos are a bit too perfectly executed to be believed.

Just another cruel reminder that as quickly as the internet giveth, it can taketh away. 

h/t BuzzFeed News


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.
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