Fyre Fest’s Successful Social Media Marketing

You may have heard about Fyre Festival after the recent premieres of the Netflix and Hulu documentaries “Fyre” and “Fyre Fraud.”

For those of you who haven’t, here’s a short recap: Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule set out to build an app called Fyre, which was supposed to be similar to Uber, but for booking talent. The two wanted to promote the app by creating a huge music festival, hence Fyre Festival. It turned out worse than anyone could have expected.

This was the announcement about Fyre Festival:

Video Via Fyre Festival on YouTube

The promo video promised a white sand private island, gourmet food, spectacular accommodations, and an immersive music festival.

McFarland and Ja Rule used social media and very popular celebrities and social media influencers, such as Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, to promote the event. The “orange tile” was the next part of the social media promotion. This infamous social media post was one of the marketing strategies that was actually very successful for such a horrendous event.

Photo from BBC News

Each influencer posted a plain orange tile to their Instagram feed with something about the festival, making it seem like they would be attending, even though this was not the case.

This was the reality of Fyre Festival:

Photo via Business Insider

Photos via Alex Sanchez and Business Insider.

This was certainly not what people expected after seeing the announcement video.

Many attendees were stranded with little food, wet mattresses, and no way to get home. People were furious, and rightly so.

Billy McFarland tried to cover up this incident by saying that it was caused by the weather. He sent out an “apology” saying that if weather permitted everything would have been fine. He also mentioned that everyone that was affected would be getting free VIP tickets to next years festival – just what everyone was hoping for!

This was the statement that the Fyre Festival team released shortly after the “event” took place:

Photo Via AdWeek

Billy McFarland did close to nothing right for this event, and ended up earning himself 6 years in prison.

However, even though Fyre Festival was a complete disaster that ended up hurting many people, McFarland did do one thing right.

The way McFarland used social media and influencers to promote his event and make it big was recognized as being a good use of influencer marketing. He made people believe that this festival was going to be successful, popular and filled with all of their favorite celebrities.

It is unfortunate that one of influencer marketing’s most successful acts is also the one that most people would prefer to forget.

Photo via Upfluence

Fyre Festival wouldn’t have been as well-known without the influencer marketing McFarland used to promote this – well, absolutely horrible – event. This example just goes to show exactly how powerful influencers can be in advertising and marketing, especially on social media.

To learn more about the “greatest party that never happened,” check out the Netflix or Hulu documentaries!

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