The owner of an ice cream truck in Los Angeles has turned his worst nightmare into profit overnight.
Joe Nicchi, who owns the popular CVT Soft Serve truck in L.A., got so fed up of Instagram influencers asking for free ice cream in exchange for exposure that he decided to use it to his advantage: He posted a sign next to the vehicle that read “influencers pay double” and ended up going viral for it, as The Guardian reported.
The anti-influencer advert earned the attention from one of his customers, who took a photo of it and shared it on Reddit, turning Nicchi into an overnight sensation. Nicchi himself posted a photo of the sign on his Instagram page, alongside the caption, “We will never give you a free ice cream in exchange for a post on your social media page. It’s literally a $4 item…well now it’s $8 for you,” as well as the hashtag “#InfluencersAreGross.” That photo has now earned him lots of new customers who come from all sorts of places in California just to try the famous ice cream and share a common dislike for Instagram stars.
“We’re the anti-influencer influencers. It’s weird … but I think it’s really fun. I hope it inspires small businesses to hold their own and tell people to f*** off,” he told The Guardian.
In this day and age, it is fairly normal for “influencers” — people with a large social media following — to get in touch with businesses and request free products in exchange for a sponsored post. Big stars such as Kylie Jenner can even earn up to $1 million per sponsored Instagram post, as Business Insider pointed out. Insta travelers will often receive free accommodation and free meals in exchange for a positive advertisement that will reach thousands of other users and perhaps boost their profits.
But smaller businesses like CVT Soft Serve also experienced the rush for good social media content. Their “Instagrammable” vintage ice cream truck and the soft serves attracted lots of customers, including influencers. Nicchi, who started the company in 2014, said he got to the point where he was receiving weekly requests for free ice cream, which prompted him to make the decision to publicly criticize self-proclaimed influencers.
“The most painful thing for me is when they approach me at the truck. Are you out of your mind? This is four dollars. But obviously they wouldn’t be asking if people weren’t saying yes,” he said.
And while he understands the importance of promoting CVT (which stands for chocolate, vanilla, and twist) online, Nicchi also wants people to know that his business is essentially how he makes a living and pays bills.
“This is a money-making thing. I can’t give away my ice-cream for free,” he explained.
Since putting up his “anti-influencer” sign, Nicchi has received lots of worldwide coverage, as well as positive messages on social media, with many telling him “it was about time” someone took a stand.