How the Fyre Festival Became the Ultimate Marketing Campaign & Why It Doesn’t Matter

 By now, everyone has at least heard of the huge disaster of a festival that never was. For those of you who don’t know, the Fyre Music Festival was supposed to be the festival to end all festivals. A deserted tropical island in the Bahamas, the most famous influencers, and an exclusive guest list, all for the mere cost of an engagement ring. The VIP package was to include the most luxurious of treatments, gourmet meals, and villas to sleep in.  Whether you were following the trending topic on Twitter, back in April of 2017, or have recently binge watched the documentaries on Netflix or Hulu, you couldn’t ignore the urge to google “Ja Rule, where is he now?” Ja Rule and the other master minds behind the festival are now facing major lawsuits for fraud. Our fascination with The Fyre Festival stems from the amazing marketing campaign that came before the disaster.  The Fyre team did absolutely everything right from a marketing perspective and we’ll go into what that entails below, and then further discuss why at the end of the day it was all a waste. 

Knowing Your Audience 

In marketing, it’s crucial to know who exactly it is you’re trying to reach. Once that has been determined, you can create your marketing plan. The Fyre team wanted to create the ultimate experience for millennials by hosting two 3-day music festivals full of the most prominent performers, and trendiest influencers, with luxurious accommodations on a Bahamian island. The team had the dates and the location picked (or so they thought) and had their target audience nailed, then they began attempting to execute their marketing plan. 

The Power of Influencers 

We can all admit, we’ve bought a product or visited a restaurant based on a sponsored post by a celebrity we follow on social media. As silly as it may be, it’s a very real and a crucial piece of marketing in today’s society. In fact, 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions, as reported by Collective Bias. Fyre took this statistic and ran with it. They utilized multiple different Instagram personalities to create a viral sensation around the announcement of Fyre. First, they invited these Instagram influencers to the island that would be the proposed site of the festival. Then they filmed an absolutely incredible promotional video. The video created an atmosphere that every single millennial would want to partake in, they created an experience rather than a product. Since there are so many influential millennials with such a large following on social media, it was smart to use them as their voice to introduce the festival.

Then, Fyre executed a seamless Instagram campaign with these same influencers, with one notable addition – Kendall Jenner, who alone has over 100 million followers. All these influencers posted a solid orange post on Instagram with captions announcing the festival. This created a viral craze on social media, people were immediately trying to learn the details of the event, they were willing to pay large amounts of money to attend, in the efforts to live like the celebrities they follow online. 

It Worked 

What will be remembered as potentially the most brilliant, millennial geared marketing campaign of all time, was a complete success. They started with the perfect idea, found an incredible venue and followed it up by creating an event full of popular musical acts and various other activities. The buzz that was created took the Internet by storm, and the general admission tickets to the festival sold out almost immediately. Due to this, Fyre created an even more exclusive VIP package, which people also immediately bought. The marketing campaign helped set up what many thought was going to be the next Woodstock-esque event that people would be talked about for years to come. Little did they know; the festival would be famous for a much different reason. 

Why It Doesn’t Matter 

Everyone knows the story so I don’t need to rehash it for anyone, but let’s just leave it at the festival never happened, and was a complete disaster from start to finish.  From lying about the “private” island location, to the FEMA tents, to being locked in the airport, to the Bahamian employees who still haven’t been paid. It just goes to show that no matter how much marketing you invest in, without a great product and proper execution, you have nothing. It’s proof that marketing (when done right) is so incredibly powerful. It can create just about anything you can dream of, which is exactly what happened for the Fyre festival. Another important lesson of the Fyre Festival is how influencer marketing can be so impactful to your marketing campaign, it can increase the amount of eyes on your campaign by millions (literally) in just a few moments, but on the other hand when this happens people’s expectations are heightened and in this instance the successful influencer marketing campaign completely backfired.