A construction worker from Austin, Texas shot to viral fame after poking fun at social media influencers by becoming one himself.
Turns out the whole thing was a marketing hoax concocted by a small coffee company called Cuvée Coffee.
Buzzfeed News learned that Cuvée Coffee's owner Mike McKim came up with the idea for the stunt as part of a "creative brainstorming session."
At first glance, "Omar" was just your average Joe who enjoys a cup of joe and posts about it. The blue collar guy outfitted in a construction hat and vest engaging on Instagram appeared as someone who goes against type, adding further appeal and likability.
People went along for the ride.
@justaconstructionguy racked up 407K followers. However, the man who mocked influencers by pouring himself a cup of coffee instead of concrete had nothing to do with managing the account.
McKim explained how he arrived at the marketing idea.
"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."
"We need a different type of influencer: a hard-worker, blue-collar guy."
McKim worked with advertising agency Bandolier Media to push his coffee brand and developed the "Omar" persona based on a real-life construction worker in the Austin area.
McKim's stunt additionally benefited from Twitter user
Barbara, who uses the Twitter handle under a private account, claimed Omar was her father and created the @justaconstructionguy account to prove to his daughter that anyone could become a social media influencer.
In a since deleted or protected tweet, Barbara said her father:
"asked me what an influencer was, and after I explained, he said 'Pshh, I could do that.' Well...he did."
"The best part is he works in construction."
Once the seed was planted, the contrived story sprouted across various social media platforms over the course of a few days.
Buzzfeed reported that a popular meme-aggregator "Middle Class Fancy" shared Barabara's tweet and tagged @justaconstructionguys's account.
That post skyrocketed with 146,000 likes and prompted other users to follow Omar's account.
He shared the post because it brought "a huge smile on [his] face" and thought Omar was "a cool guy."
However, it was only a matter of time until followers became privvy to the hoax.
Eagle-eyed users noticed the posts tagged by @cuveecoffee was a big indicator the page was an advertising ploy.
Cuvée Coffee's IG account responded as users who thought Omar was not a real person discovered the truth.
"Omar is a real guy, and his crew is here all the time. His posts show him doing the things he loves to do. We just [gave] him an influencer crash course and taught him how to use the Gram."
McKim added that he was amused by his little coffee shop's location that is "surrounded by construction."
"When we go into the coffee bar in the morning, there's a line of guys in hard hats and vests."
He recalled the initial conversation he had with Omar, whose last name remains undisclosed.
"We started talking about construction guys, and so [Bandolier Media] reached out to Omar and said, 'Do you want to have some fun?' And he said 'What's social media? Instagram? Huh?' He said, 'I don't know how to do it,' so we said, 'Alright we'll help you; let's just have some fun with it.'"
Omar was compensated for his likeness to be spread all over the internet and Bandolier took over all other aspects of running his page.
McKim assured there was no monetizing of the account, but left the option available for Omar should he choose to pursue autonomy and/or ownership of the branded account.
"The intention was let's get an influencer who fits our brand. There has been no payment, $0 exchanged for Omar other than [the photo shoot] payment."
"The whole genesis started with the construction around us, which led to to construction workers being in our coffee shop,. 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."
The strategy paid off, and the account became a success with fans of the caffeinated blue collar worker.
"Sometimes traditional influencers just don't feel genuine," said McKim.
Despite the revelation, @cuveecoffee posted an update indicating that Omar remains as popular as ever.
"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."
That was a latte take in!