The Los Angeles ice cream truck owner of CVT Softserve, Joe Nicchi, is tired of social media influencers trying to get free ice cream for @ mentions. He made it official with a sign that reads: “Influencers pay double“
“It’s literally a 4 dollar item. Well, now it’s 8 for you.”
In doing so, he created by himself a lot more influence than your general Influencer could ever bring him. Not only did this image appear in local - and thus relevant - subreddits garnering hundreds of comments, the Instagram post went viral. Turns out, a lot of local L.A. people are fed up with Instagram influencers free ride, and side whole heartedly with CVT Softserves move.
“At first I was confused,” Nicchi explained over the phone, before launching into a slightly different tone of voice to re-create one of the encounters: "It's like, 'Hey, what's up. So, I don't know if you follow me but I have a 100,000 followers. Could you hook me up with an ice cream? I'll post about you in my story.' ”
“It totally threw me. I'm like, this is a $4 item. What are you talking about?” And then it became normal, something that happened at least once a week. There was a constant barrage of influencers coming up to his truck or sending emails, demanding special treatment and devaluing his product — which, for the record, is a family recipe passed down from his father, who has long served soft-serve ice cream for dessert in his upstate New York restaurants.
Influencer marketing is definitely declining. As the LA Times points out, there's a recent backlash now. Interviewing Evan Asano, founder and CEO of Mediakix, a leading influencer marketing agency.
“Recently, there's been a huge backlash about it,” Asano said, explaining that many restaurants have made it a policy to no longer participate. “If you just have 10,000 followers and you want a free steak, it's just not going to happen anymore."
"Restaurants and hotels now are getting flooded. Some get 30 [requests] a day,” Asano said.
There's also the issue with reach turning into sales, which isn't always the case. Recall Arii, the influencer with over two million followers who couldn't sell 36 t-shirts. And sometimes, Influencers personal posts can reflect badly on your brand, as happened when a Swedish influencer cheered at the sight of a burning Notre Dam. His most recent post before that was a sponsored one, and the brand was stuck wielding all the angry comments.
So, with a well-timed pricing sign, and an Instagram post, the CVT Soft Serve ice cream truck just out-influenced the influencers, as he had something they don't. An idea. Remember those? They used to be the single most important thing in advertising.