"We have a solid product that speaks for itself," CVT Soft Serve founder Joe Nicchi tells PEOPLE
A Los Angeles-based ice cream truck owner is so tired of social media influencers asking him for free cones in exchange for “exposure,” that he has doubled the price of his soft serve for anyone claiming to be an influencer.
“We’ve decided to make this thing official with signage. We truly don’t care if you’re an Influencer, or how many followers you have,” CVT Soft Serve announced on Instagram earlier this week.
“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. #InfluencersAreGross“
CVT — which stands for the available flavors, chocolate, vanilla and twirl — has been operating for five-and-a-half years, and founder Joe Nicchi tells PEOPLE that over the past two to three years, requests from influencers come in every single week, in the form of both online requests and face-to-face at his trucks.
“I’m truly embarrassed for these people,” the soft serve purveyor tells PEOPLE. “I’m not really 100 percent sure what they actually do, and their followers, likes, and comments can all be purchased, so I have trouble looking at them as being reputable.”
“I’m sure there are some legitimate ‘influencers’ out there, but we haven’t come across any at our trucks or through event requests.”
Just last Thursday, his company “received a request for an event to comp them 300 servings in exchange for “exposure”…I believe that’s an influencer’s favorite word.”
The request is a perfect example of the type of messages that prompted Nicchi to make his “Influencers Pay Double” signs for his trucks. Ironically, his signs have now made him go viral on social media.
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In another post of a close-up of the sign, CVT said, “We couldn’t care less about how many followers you have, and we’re super embarrassed for you when you tell us.”
Nicchi also shared an example of the types of emails he receives asking him to provide his services for free in another Instagram post to CVT’s account. “Hard Pass,” he wrote over the request.
“If it’s public knowledge that anyone can purchase followers and likes, then why does an ‘influencer’ hold weight?” the caption said. “Let’s make hard work ‘huge right now.’ Let’s make not asking people to work for free ‘huge right now.’ We are not impressed or influenced by your ‘following’…you probably bought them.”
The soft serve company seems to be doing just fine without help from influencers.
Nicchi says that the company’s success “comes from the taste of our ice cream.”
“We have a solid product that speaks for itself,” he says. “I also think people appreciate our no-nonsense approach to the business both with our limited menu and our online posts.”
“I don’t really focus on anything but the product,” Nicchi says. “I think if our ice cream is great, that the rest will hopefully fall into place via word of mouth and through reputable journalists.”
CVT also catered famed pastry chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres’ birthday, and a recent post from the truck’s stop in Burbank shows a long line for the “Non-artisanal, dairy based, large batch, gluten-filled deliciousness.”
You can find CVT Soft Serve’s stops around Los Angeles by following their Twitter.