When Marketing Plays with Fyre

When Marketing Plays with Fyre

When Marketing Plays with Fyre

This past month, us and seemingly half the internet has been watching one thing… Fyre Festival. Despite giving us severe anxiety throughout, the Netflix documentary is one of the best we’ve watched in a while (and not just because of the quite frankly amazing memes) but due to the phenomenal marketing campaign and phenomenally poor planning.

On paper, Fyre Festival sounded like the dream. An ‘immersive music festival’ located in the Bahamas designed to promote the Fyre Music app. Marketed to the 1%, the boutique festival (where tickets ranged from $450- $100,000) promised luxury villas and yachts, high-profile artists, models and gourmet catering, all to a backdrop of azure waters… what could go wrong?

Let’s talk about the marketing campaign. If you forget about the ensued shit show, the campaign was incredible- it ticked every box for their target demographic; aspirational video ft. some of the world’s most famous models and a multitude of influencers sharing the same cryptic post- a ‘fyre-orange’ square, generating excitement and even hysteria. It was the crème de la crème of teaser campaigns with the festival selling-out.

However, there was zero planning and even when team members employed to create much-needed infrastructure raised their concerns, they were simply dismissed. There were no luxury villas but something resembling a gravel carpark with disaster relief tents, the ‘gourmet catering’ was reduced to a now infamous cheese sandwich and seemingly few staff around to manage the situation.

And what did the event organisers say in their official statement? “We simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get,”… interesting considering they knew exactly how many tickets they had sold ???… ANYWAY.

When the truth came to light, the ambitious marketing campaign expertly demonstrated the dangerous power influencers can have. A host of high-profile celebrities endorsed the campaign, most notably Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowskiand Kendall Jenner (who was reportedly paid $250,000 for one promotional post). It was in fact only Emily who included ‘#ad’ in her post to indicate it was a paid-for promotion, the others simply ignored FTC regulations to disclose sponsored content. Ultimately these celebrities were encouraging their highly impressionable followers to invest in something with no proof of concept.

At LUYA, we run a lot of events and, although not always quite on that scale, the planning that goes into just one day event is eye watering (it always seems to be portaloos and photography that cause the drama #LUYAlife), so it’s crazy to us that Fyre Festival’s organisers just simply thought they could get away with non-existent planning.

Another big part of what we do for most clients is influencer outreach. There’s no denying its importance, with the average return on investment in 2018 being $5.20 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing*. However, Fyre Festival has definitely put influencers in the hotspot and while we’re certain there’s no decline in the power of the influencer, as consumers become more savvy they want to see content they trust, from users they trust (remember Scarlett London’s Listerine ad backlash)?

Fyre hasn’t damaged the influencer market but has acted as a catalyst for discussion. We’re hopeful that now brands, agencies and influencers will just be more vigilant, which can only be a good thing for the end consumer.

However, perhaps the most important takeaway from the whole Fyre fiasco is the fact you’re only as good as the product you’re promoting. The influencers in question were wrong to promote a product they had little knowledge about but it’s the organisers who launched an extravagant marketing campaign based on a non-existent product who are truly at fault. At LUYA we only work with brands we really believe in as it’s the only way to create a really powerful marketing campaign.

Check out some examples of what we can do here.

*According to a study of 2,000 campaigns by Neoreach.

There’s no time like the present…