Kellen Whitehead is a used car salesman. (Insert collective groan here).
The prototypical lot lizard in a loud blazer that officiates one of the more stressful interactions humans say they have in their lifetimes, according to multiple surveys, is often a target of disdain.
“What’s it going to take to put you in a AMC Gremlin today?” a pushy barker might probe between chomps of a cigar that never appears to be lit.
Forget all you ever dreaded about dickering for that Dodge Ram and meet this glow-up version who pushes aluminum at an auto dealership in Cody.
Kellen Whitehead is the sharp who sold Kanye West his fleet of vehicles when he moved to Wyoming for a cup of coffee. He’s the same guy who bought them back when the rapper pulled out and headed back to Cali.
But Whitehead is more famous today for something that has nothing to do with selling vehicles. His faux travelogue of “must see” Wyoming places to visit is gathering followers like Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Guy attracts buyers to a dealership.
Bait And Switch
Whitehead belongs at Comedy Central more so than Fremont Motors on Big Horn Ave in downtown Cody. He’s always been lowkey funny and a bit techy. On his phone constantly, he says.
Earlier this month, Whitehead began putting together TikTok videos that each highlight a specific town in Wyoming. These short (less than 20 seconds) travel videos follow the same pattern: They begin with a Google Maps zoom-in to said town, hard cut to sleekly edited, dazzling slow-motion drone shots of the terrain, ending with a snippet of unique wildlife.
Only here’s the catch. They aren’t real. As in, don’t book a weekend in Jeffrey City expecting to hop on the next boat ride through tranquil rice paddies. Or don’t feel disappointed if no one in your travel party had an elephant sighting in Lusk.
And all of them, with two exceptions, are complete gags, just nonsensical reels matching a town with some of the unlikeliest footage from Japan, Antarctica, Bali, Turkey, Scotland, etc. Arid locations in Wyoming are paired with lush rain forest settings and waterfalls. The smaller the community, the bigger the thriving metropolis Whitehead might use. The more off-base, the better.
“There really isn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to what I use. I basically try to do a 180 when it comes to what I might choose for a town,” Whitehead said. “Like Casper might get matched with Singapore or something.
“I try to jump from ridiculous straight to completely ridiculous. Because I would hate to be the guy who watches a video and then complains he never saw a whale while he was in Evanston.”
Whitehead’s TikTok clips are so over-the-top absurd it’s hard to imagine anyone being fooled. Yet, the internet is full of people buying bundles of video game gift cards to help that poor Nigerian prince claim his inheritance.
The majority of Whitehead’s TikTok followers are in on the gag. The comments usually involve people queuing up to be Whitehead’s next victim.
“Do Lovell next,” one TikTok user commented.
“A bunch of people have been waiting to laugh at ours,” stated Moorcroft’s London McCrea.
But there is always that one person.
“Hulett does not look anything at all like this,” says someone on his depiction of the small town.
Whitehead’s videos are so randomly, insipidly wrong it’s as if a drunken ChatGPT went haywire; artificial Intelligence with a really bad case of malware.
Each clip begins with a piece of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” followed by something from the soundtrack of “How to Train Your Dragon.” They include intriguing titles like “Majestic and out of this world is Wyoming” and “Small towns in Wyoming just hit different.”
Only one video is authentic. And it’s a beauty promoting the state as a whole. Seriously, Diane Shober of the Wyoming Office of Tourism should at least feel obligated to buy a car from Fremont Motors.
Another is an admitted shameless self-promotional plug for Whitehead.
Whitehead, who has no real background in video editing, simply enjoys making the videos on his cellphone in his spare time. Engagement is what he’s seeking first and foremost. If there is a pitch in the message, it’s a really soft-sell approach.
Cowboy State Daily straight up asked Whitehead: “How does this sell cars?”
“Every dealership has a guy who sits around and makes funny videos of the car he wants to get off the lot. I used to do that too. That gets old and I thought it would be hilarious to do these,” Whitehead says. “My theory is since I'm always plugged in, I'm using these videos as a way to get my name out there.
“Like Gary V[Vaynerchuk] says, you gotta be the ‘social mayor of your community.’ Apparently, it’s catching."
So far so good. Whitehead says he hasn’t heard anything one way or another from his boss at Fremont.
“I’ll take no news as good news,” he says.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Followers can’t get enough of the silliness. Videos fetch anywhere from 10,000 to 300,000 views. Hundreds of comments follow every clip.
That engagement encourages Whitehead to keep it going. How long?
“I think I'm just going to run it until I’m bored or get enough negative comments,” he says.
Whitehead recently showed off his sense of humor with a takeoff on the controversial temple planned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cody. The project has come under scrutiny for its height.
“Think the temple is going to be tall?! Check out this 2017 Ford F250 Lariat Badlands, lift kit + tires,” Whitehead posted to Facebook’s Cody Area Classifieds. The post included a series of photoshopped images showing the truck dominating Cody’s skyline.
“Yeah, that one seemed to work. Touchy subject,” Whitehead says.
Oh, and that Kanye West thing?
Whitehead confirmed he sold the infamous Ye his fleet of blacked-out Ford F-150 Raptors.
“He’s a different kind of weird,” Whitehead said.