We all know about the infamous Fyre Festival. That was a whole mess almost too absurd to believe. Now, we are given an inside look to what really happened. I have to confess, I have only watched the Netflix documentary. So know that that’s where I’m coming from. Although, I’m seriously invested in it now, so I might watch the one from Hulu too.
To those who haven’t watched the Netflix documentary yet (why??), it essentially revealed how an ambitious entrepreneur-slash-serious-fraudster, Billy Mcfarland, along with his partner Ja Rule, came up with this monumental plan to establish a luxurious music festivalá la Coachella, but supposedly more luxurious, and held in a beautiful island in the Bahamas. With zero no-how on how to pull off a festival, the two were obviously in over their heads. In the end, Fyre Festival turned out to be more of a zombie apocalypse rather than a “party of the century.” Billy eventually got caught and is now serving a six-year prison sentence for fraud.
There are so many things we can learn from this (constantly filming yourself while executing a crime is a big no-no, for one.) But I’m gonna focus on something I think most of us can relate to: Just how vulnerable we are as consumers, and the impact of influencers.
In the new age of social media, brand strategies are evolving too. When it comes to marketing, tapping influencers is the new game. Our feeds are constantly bombarded with them. Forbes explained, “Borrowing equity from these people was a great way to connect brands with consumers through paid channels like advertising and earned channels like PR placements.” But the question of whether it’s ethical comes in. Prior to this incident, influencers are more lax in posting advertisements. Now, they have to be clear and specify whether a certain post is in fact a paid partnership.
Two take-outs from Fyre Festival Failure. Fake marketers always get found out, and "there's a sucker born every minute" is the best description of those who believe "influencer" posts. Experienced marketers have never been more essential than in the digital marketing world… pic.twitter.com/mD19mmBTXU
— Malcolm Auld (@MalcolmAuld) January 25, 2019
In the case of Fyre, though Billy and Ja know zilch about music festivals, they understand how powerful influencers can be. So they went big on the marketing, and tapped the biggest supermodels in the world, including Hailey Baldwin, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Emily Ratajkowski, to shoot a promotional video and promote Fyre on their own social media platforms. And sure enough, it proved irresistible to many of their followers who willingly shelled out thousands of dollars on the fly—despite the several red flags—just so they could party with, and like, their idols.
The documentary also showed the immense responsibility influencers carry. Like their title suggests, they just have too much influence on a lot of people to carelessly put out harmful messages or content online. When Fyre was happening, for instance, celebrity influencers were still uploading deceiving posts, even as the stranded festival-goers were sending out SOS messages. Huffington Post noted, “Of course, once the enormity of the fiasco became apparent, they were quick to delete everything with no apologies offered.” The only one who did eventually apologize was Bella Hadid. Others were not held accountable and even reportedly kept their fee. In these cases, whether they were aware of it or not, the fact is, these influencers became indirect parties to a crime.
— D.B. Cooper (@RipCityDrummer) January 25, 2019
15 minutes into this fyre festival documentary and i feel so much second hand embarrassment
— ヤスケ (@954px) January 25, 2019
people at Fyre Festival fighting for the last lettuce and cheese sandwich (circa 2017) pic.twitter.com/kX7G45UZ44
— TNolz (@TNolzZz) January 24, 2019
So in conclusion: a) If you’re an influencer, please be aware of the power you carry and make sure you’re ready to face the possible consequences of your actions. And b) If you’re a follower or consumer, don’t just be a mindless sheep (and don’t ignore the red flags!!!) so you don’t end up like one of those gullible festival-goers. It’s not fun to be called “stupid” and become the butt of jokes.
Art by Marian Hukom
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