Lessons Fyre Festival taught us about influencer marketing

The Fyre Festival was a disaster, that we know. However, prior to the event, we saw that influencer marketing played a huge role in its promotion. Top influencers like Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and more, were hired to advertise this ‘failed attempt’ of an event. A year down the line, here are some lessons Fyre Festival taught us about influencer marketing.


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#Fyrefestival was the hashtag of the year 2017! Some of the biggest influencers you can think of, hopped onto the bandwagon of advertising agencies paid to promote this show.

However, due to a scam, the entire festival was an epic fiasco–with a lot to take home from it. A recent documentary by NetflixFyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, and Hulu’s Fyre Fraud, have made the event a topic of interest all over again.

Obviously, the biggest lesson learnt is over-promising and under-delivering. Yet, another pretty important thing to take home is the ‘power of influencer marketing’— to succeed or to fail.

RELATED: Fyre Festival: Influencers are soon going to be burnt!


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Lessons Fyre Festival taught us about influencer marketing

Firstly, we can say that influencer marketing drove up the sale of Fyre Festival tickets. For a $500- $12,000 ticket fee, these models convinced over 12,000 people to buy.

But did they do it the right way?

Lesson 1: Violation of the advertising law

In line with the festival’s promotion, some mega influencers were paid huge sums to post plain orange-colored photos. In fact, Kendall Jenner was reportedly paid $250,000 by wire transfer for just one single social media post”, Entrepreneur.com wrote.

However, in all these, not one consumer was made aware this was an #ad. In other words, these mega influencers made it look like they were simply promoting something they were a part of. As if they received no monies to do this.

Now that in its own is a violation of the United States’ Federal Trade Commission’s truth-in-advertising rules. 

“The general rule of thumb is to add to the post “#ad” or “#sponsored” o abide by FTC rules and not mislead your audience”.

lessons fyre festival
Bella Hadid’s since deleted ‘non-tagged’ ad for the fyre festival. Source: The Fashion Law

Oh and spoiler alert: Not one of these influencers showed up at the event, not even Ja Rule who was co-founder!

Lessons Fyre Festival taught us about influencer marketing

Lesson 2: False advertisement and its vices

So as earlier stated, the Fyre Festival was heavily selling out lies and false promises.

“A number of supermodels and influencers were flown out to the sandy beaches of the Bahamas by McFarland, for a weeklong promotional video shoot to be released ahead of the festival, as well as for a photo op for social media”, Entrepreneur.com continued.

The entire ad was a party–seeming to say that that was in store for any attendant. Another instance was the actual line used to sell the event: A branded Jet experience.

Yet, they got the complete opposite! One attendant even said it was “lower than an economy class flight”. Luxury villas which were promised, also turned out to be regular white tents!

Therefore, based on a glamorous influencer marketing campaign, thousands of people were left disappointed.


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Lesson 3: Micro over macro anyday!

The failures of mega influencer campaigns is enough to prove that micro is the way forward. Organizers of the festival put all their eggs in one basket by hiring the “best of the best”.

Instead of going big, brands should focus on micro-influencers with smaller audiences. Spend less and get more– that easy! Micro influencers have the ability to connect better with people. In fact, they have even higher engagement rates than bigger influencers.

The millions of dollars Fyre Media spent on mega influencers could have been cut in half or more, should they have used micro ones. And the monies saved could be channeled into proper planning and logistics of the event.

Lessons Fyre Festival taught: The way forward

In conclusion, brands must make sure influencers tag their sponsored ads properly, while making sure to not sell fake dreams.

In addition, companies/ brands should know that working with popular celebrities does not always guarantee success. A better investment is to go more micro, and focusing more on what matters– the product itself!

RELATEDThe top Influencer Marketing scandals of 2018


Amanda Lucy


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