How The Fats Jewish constructed a enterprise empire off Instagram and jokes

  • Josh Ostrovsky, identified professionally as The Fats Jewish, has 10.6 million Instagram followers.
  • He has turned loyal followers into energized clients.
  • Final 12 months he offered his wine firm, Babe Wine, to Anheuser-Busch InBev. It was the brewing behemoth’s largest funding in wine.
  • Enterprise Insider spoke with three social-media-management founders and CEOs, all of whom mentioned Ostrovsky’s success is replicable for different influencers — offered they take the correct steps.
  • Go to Enterprise Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

Memeing the Kardashians and judging a moist T-shirt contest for pregnant ladies does not sound like the conventional begin to entrepreneurial ventures. However Josh Ostrovsky — higher identified by his social-media alias, The Fats Jewish — is not typical.

As an alternative of filling followers’ feeds with images of chiseled abs and dewy pores and skin, Ostrovsky, 38, serves as much as his 10.6 million Instagram followers images of his pronounced stomach and his upright ponytail, which he affectionately refers to as a “hair erection.”

It is variations like these which may have helped a fledgling social-media star in 2012 construct an empire.

Over the previous eight years, Ostrovsky has ascended from viral hit to respectable businessman. He is landed sponsorships with outstanding firms like Burger King, appeared in beloved TV exhibits and a music video, and partnered with celebrities like Madonna. Maybe most notably, in 2015, he cofounded Babe Wine, which he offered to Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2019 in what the brewer says was its largest wine funding to this point.

Ostrovsky has additionally mentioned that the influencer world has grow to be so aggressive prior to now eight years that his playbook for netting high-price sponsorship offers is already out of date. He declined Enterprise Insider’s request for an interview.

However Enterprise Insider spoke with social-media specialists who agreed that Ostrovsky’s success is certainly replicable for different influencers, offered they comply with just a few key steps: Construct a powerful persona, stay genuine, and perceive the wants and desires of their followers.

This is how Ostrovsky constructed his following and turned it right into a viable enterprise — and what different influencers can be taught from his methods.

The person beneath the upright ponytail

Ostrovsky revealed his first Instagram publish on October 11, 2012, two years after the platform launched. The close-up picture of a person’s white tube socks with “suck my dick” in black lettering has garnered 1,006 likes.

His breakout second got here in 2013, when he posted a video of himself conducting a mock spin class for homeless folks utilizing Citi Bike, New York Metropolis’s bike-sharing system. The stunt poked enjoyable at train lessons like SoulCycle that incorporate choreography and rah-rah speeches. The video, which has 91,000 views on The Fats Jewish’s YouTube web page, was lined by shops like Mic, New York journal, and Enterprise Insider.

Ostrovsky’s LinkedIn profile says he labored as a artistic director for the net media outlet Thrillist in 2013, then was a “content material advertising evangelist” at Nintendo till 2015. Neither firm confirmed his employment.

Now, eight years after his first Instagram publish, Ostrovsky’s penchant for vulgarity and shock humor helps his posts commonly amass 300,000 to 500,000 likes. His content material attracts commentary from stars just like the actress Bella Thorne and the musician Kacey Musgraves.

Nonetheless, Ostrovsky’s rise to fame wasn’t with out stumbles. In 2015, comedians together with Patrick Walsh, Ben Rosen, and Wayne Gladstone accused Ostrovsky of posting their jokes with out giving them credit score. Ostrovsky has since added attribution to jokes he does not declare as his personal.

Ryan Detert, the CEO of Influential, a tech platform that connects manufacturers with social-media influencers, mentioned The Fats Jewish’s followers skew extra feminine than male, are below 30, are extremely engaged, and are typically residing, respiratory people moderately than bots. That is necessary: Social media is saturated with bots, so precise human engagement makes partnerships all of the extra engaging for manufacturers, he added.

And as Ostrovsky’s social-media persona grew, he built-in it with pop-culture occasions and classy TV exhibits that uncovered him to new audiences and fan bases.

He starred within the music video for DNCE’s “Cake by the Ocean,” which has been considered 400 million occasions. He made visitor appearances on actuality exhibits equivalent to “The Actual Housewives of Beverly Hills” and debuted a clothes line at New York Trend Week in 2015. He even partnered with Madonna in 2017 to shoot a joint industrial for his or her wine and skincare manufacturers. He is additionally incessantly noticed with actress and mannequin Emily Ratajkowski, who married his childhood good friend, filmmaker Sebastian Bear-McClard, in 2018 and have become Babe Wine’s “chief of style” the next 12 months.

Alongside the way in which, Ostrovsky scored social-media partnerships with the likes of Virgin Cell, Seamless, Burger King, and Bumble, resulting in big-name model recognition and large paydays. Posting content material for these firms on Instagram is probably going netting him $30,000 to $50,000 per marketing campaign, Detert mentioned.

Josh Ostrovsky

Different influencers can be taught from Ostrovsky’s methods.

(Picture by Probability Yeh/Getty Photographs for BABE)

Rosé all day

As Ostrovsky constructed his social-media empire, he teamed up with David Oliver Cohen and Tanner Cohen — the brothers and writers behind the Twitter account White Woman Issues — and Alexander Ferzan to create Babe Wine. White Woman Rosé, which poked enjoyable on the real-life rosé scarcity that struck the Hamptons in 2014, was its star product.

“Each time you work together with him there’s laughter,” mentioned Jonty Kelt, the founding father of Fantail Ventures, an early-stage funding fund. Kelt invested below $1 million in Babe Wine in 2016. “I feel everybody has a superpower, and for Josh, it is his concepts and creativity,” Kelt added.

In 2016, Ostrovsky debuted Babe Wine and launched a canned bubbly rosé. It now additionally has a carbonated pinot grigio and a purple wine. The bubbles do extra than simply punch up the wine — they convey enjoyment to clients, mentioned Beth Bloom, an affiliate director of US food-and-drink experiences on the market-research agency Mintel.

“It communicates enjoyable, celebration, and refreshment,” Bloom mentioned, “that are facets which can be of better curiosity to youthful customers.”

Three years later, in 2019, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer-maker, purchased Babe Wine.

4 months after the acquisition, Anheuser-Busch InBev introduced that Babe could be the NFL’s first “official wine sponsor” and seem on the Tremendous Bowl.

The canned-wine class has continued to develop. 12 months-over-year gross sales of canned wine in retailers equivalent to liquor and grocery shops elevated by 61.8% between March and September, in accordance with Nielsen.

Innovating the influencer enterprise mannequin

In March, throughout a podcast interview with Morning Brew’s Kinsey Grant, Ostrovsky mentioned he did not consider that new influencers making an attempt to construct their careers as we speak may comply with the trajectory he’d charted. That is as a result of, he mentioned, the worth of on a regular basis social-media influencers — that’s, individuals who have 1000’s, not hundreds of thousands, of followers — is dropping as manufacturers see decrease returns on campaigns.

“The influencers have to discover ways to truly construct manufacturers, as a result of because the manufacturers which can be paying them to simply be influencers begin to catch on, the quantities of the offers are getting smaller,” Ostrovsky mentioned, including that the influencer mannequin is “not truly that efficient.”

All three social-media-influencer managers and specialists Enterprise Insider spoke to expressed a unique sentiment. Whereas nobody may identically mirror Ostrovsky’s trajectory — turning static memes right into a persona — many may construct one thing comparable, they mentioned.

“I completely suppose folks can create the identical type of success,” mentioned Kat Peterson, a cofounder of the influencer media firm Re61. “But it surely requires an extremely intimate relationship together with your followers that is tremendous constant.”

Detert expressed an identical sentiment. Utilizing social-media platforms to develop a persona, construct a following, and launch a product line will proceed to be a strong enterprise mannequin within the coming years, he mentioned. Whereas some manufacturers choose celebrities for his or her present fan bases, influencers are getting extra consideration as folks spend extra time on their telephones, he added.

Think about Karina Garcia, a DIY professional and way of life YouTuber who grew her following by posting recipes for slime. She began sharing movies in 2015, has amassed greater than 9 million YouTube subscribers, and developed a crafting product line for Goal. 

Then there’s Kayla Itsines, an Australian private coach who turned to Instagram in 2012 to share her exercises and diet strategies. As her following grew, Itsines revealed e-books and cofounded the at-home exercise app Sweat. She now has 12.7 million followers on Instagram.

However few influencers are in a position to make a residing doing solely that. Influencers who’ve 100,000 to 500,000 followers on Instagram can web $20,000 to $100,000 a 12 months in offers in the event that they’re lively, Detert mentioned. He estimated that 25,000 folks worldwide have been in a position to maintain a livelihood from their influencer work. There are extra real-estate brokers within the US, in accordance with the newest knowledge from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Communications students have additionally dispelled the notion that the influencer way of life is at all times glamorous. Brooke Erin Duffy, an assistant professor at Cornell, has written about how influencer work includes “algorithmic precarity” — you by no means know what sort of content material a platform goes to favor subsequent.

Construct the persona, then the product

Ostrovsky’s first step towards success was creating an authentic on-line persona. After he constructed a loyal following, he was in a position to flip likes into purchases.

Ostrovsky’s product was wine with a punchline, however he additionally created a advertising technique that appealed to his youthful followers. Babe Wine recruited “model ambassadors” — typically engaging faculty college students — to provide away samples and swag at events.

Model ambassadors typically aren’t influencers themselves, however they know who the varsity’s influencers are, the place they hang around, and what events they attend, a former ambassador informed Enterprise Insider.

Ambassadors additionally handed out Instagrammable items, equivalent to millennial-pink hats with “Babe” printed in white lettering, that additional helped to unfold model consciousness.

The key sauce is authenticity

Analyzing Ostrovsky’s success as a social-media maven turned entrepreneur is very related as we speak as folks flip to platforms like Instagram to launch aspect hustles or companies.

For the previous six years, Joe Gagliese has fielded an growing variety of requests from folks hoping to grow to be influencers and work together with his digital advertising company, Viral Nation. The CEO and cofounder mentioned he had obtained about 5,000 of these messages to date this 12 months, up from about 2,000 in 2019, and that development is customary for the business and never indicative of the pandemic.

Detert additionally mentioned he hadn’t seen an inflow of individuals making an attempt to make it as influencers particularly due to the pandemic, however he added that curiosity is on the rise as rising platforms like TikTok and Triller mint new social-media stars.

Regardless of the variety of influencer hopefuls, Gagliese mentioned he sees folks “attain that pinnacle of success daily.” What units Ostrovsky and different prime influencers other than the competitors, he mentioned, is their authenticity.

“Being as interesting as doable does not get you the sharing tradition,” Gagliese mentioned, including that viewers are extra inclined to share posts which can be offensive and surprising. For instance, the Instagram account FuckJerry grew to fifteen.6 million followers by posting saucy memes and survived accusations in 2019 that it stole different folks’s jokes. “They like unhealthy boys and individuals who do not comply with the established order,” he mentioned.

Ostrovsky strikes that tone.

He typically mocks celebrities, makes use of viral content material to explain a sense, or factors to stereotypes of millennials. A publish in January 2019 that mentioned “Intercourse is cool however have you ever ever wished to cancel plans however did not after which they cancel,” with the caption “Final week somebody I do know canceled their 15-person birthday dinner on the day of and I swear I felt like I had shot heroin,” obtained greater than 410,000 likes.

“There’s one thing that is actually thrilling and engaging about what he is doing and the viewers that he is reaching,” Peterson mentioned, describing Ostrovsky’s partnership with Burger King as an “on level” branding marketing campaign for each camps.

One thing like, say, getting a “rooster fries” tattoo in your chest — “that is an instance of somebody who desires to place authenticity earlier than the rest,” Peterson mentioned, “and it is not for everybody, but it surely works for him.”


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