Fyre Festival: Hot take on lessons learned and what it means for influencer marketing

Y ou may have seen the pair of documentaries released by Netflix and Hulu about the Fyre Festival, but you’ve almost definitely heard about the festival itself.
If you haven’t, here’s the low-down: a man named Billy McFarland teamed up with rapper Ja Rule to create a music festival dubbed the “next Coachella.” But because of severe mismanagement by McFarland, and a total unpreparedness to handle the scale of the event, Fyre Festival failed…spectacularly, leaving attendees stranded on an island with soggy mattresses, crisis tents and cheese sandwiches.

While it was arguably McFarland’s fault that the festival went down the drain, many were quick to blame the influencers who promoted the event.

No, Fyre Festival is not the end of influencer marketing

Many in the business and media world were quick to mark the disastrous festival as the death of influencer marketing. Our take: it was a lesson in the power and ultimately the effectiveness of influencer marketing.

The bottom line is that the marketing worked. Influencers spread the word through mysterious orange tiles posted on Instagram and a trip to the Bahamas for a promotional video. Tickets that started at $5,000 and went up to $250,000 nearly sold out within 48 hours. People around the world got excited about the exclusive event because of a well-executed, coordinated influencer marketing campaign.

The disaster that followed was and is not the fault of the influencers. Their task, to successfully promote and create excitement about this new festival, was executed to its fullest potential. The true problem was a group of hucksters with a pipedream and an utter lack of reality that ultimately couldn’t produce the product they promised.

A lesson in trust and accountability

Fyre Festival and the shockwaves following it in 2017 were a wakeup call to the influencer marketing industry. For influencers and agencies alike, it was an example to learn from about trusting a partner and holding them accountable.

When entering any partnership, it’s important to trust your partner and do your homework. For the influencers who promoted the Fyre Festival, they chose to trust that Fyre would put on the event they said they were going to.

In any influencer campaign, the agency representing the influencers needs to know the plan. This includes trusting the partner, but also vetting them to the extent possible.

Where to go from here

The influencer community has learned and grown since Fyre Festival, with enhanced FTC regulations and an increased desire to know more about the companies and products they’re promoting. Success in this post Fyre world requires an increase in transparency from both brands and influencers…it also requires a great product. Imagine that.