Fyre festival was a planned extreme luxurious music festival that would take place in April 2017 on a private island in the Bahamas. The festival would be one of the largest and most luxurious festivals ever. The festival had a mission to turn the impossible into possible.

An event where you could escape the harsh reality for two weekends. Partying at Exuma, a private island in the Bahamas; spending the night in luxury villas, top live acts by Major Lazer, Ja Rule, Kanye West, etc., luxury meals prepared by top chefs. These were all assets that the luxury festival had to offer – supposely.

The organization, mainly led by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, used no less than 400 Influencers to promote the biggest event. Thanks to the promising video, likes and posts about the event by Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and various other supermodels and Influencers, Fyre festival reached no less than 300 million people in 48 hours. The only problem was that the Influencers were selling something that didn’t really exist and would never have existed. 

Yes, the Influencer marketing was in full swing and was a great success. In 48 hours the festival was completely sold out.  People paid between $5,000 and $12,000.  This shows once again the impact of Influencer marketing and how much it has evolved and integrated.  The event sold out really quick thanks to numerous Instagram posts of famous models and Influencers on the beach and an orange square (the logo of the festival).

From everything to nothing

Once the first festival day arrived, the expectations of the Fyre festival did not correspond to reality in any way. Due to very poor organization, lack of realistic thinking, false promises and an overly exaggerated Influencer marketing campaigns, the Fyre festival has known its doomed end before it actually started. 

The promised luxury villas eventually turned out to be tents that were still used in emergency situations. Nowhere was there any sign of the promised gastronomic meals. No, instead the visitors were given a sandwich with cheese and a minimum amount of salad. Gastronomy is something else, don’t you think? Even the sanitary facilities were not even in order. The preparations were poor and the management had no choice but to cancel the promised prestigious festival before it started.   

The consequences were disastrous. A big media controversy arose, thousands of people demanded their money back, the Influencer concerned were under attack, not to mention the local population of the island. Yes, we are talking about the people who were left behind with all the waste and the dozens of people who had worked for the festival. Most local suppliers didn’t get to see a penny.

What went wrong?

Billy Macfarland has since been sentenced to an effective six-year prison sentence for fraud. However, in this case too, reference can be made to the relevance of an Influencer campaign. Many Influencers had not received sufficiently information themselves about the feasibility of the event and the professional profile of Billy Mcfarland. Various Influencers involved did not comply with the rules that apply to Influencer marketing during the campaign. 

When an Influencer is paid for a post with commercial purposes, they should mention that this is part of a paid assignment, and it was clearly not the case. As a result, many followers thought that this was a personal promotion about the festival. 

Rapper Ja Rule continues to deny that he had anything to do with the fraud practices of Billy or the disastrous organization, despite the great controversy. According to him, he was also conned and claims to have always negotiated fairly. Unlike Billy Macfarland, he was not convicted.


What can marketeers learn from this? 

Above all, keep in mind that people do not reflect reality online. There is a big difference between perception and imagination. People always want to present the best of themselves on Social Media. And sometimes there is a strong exaggeration. After all, imagination is still not equal to reality. That’s why authenticity and credibility remain a must-have in Influencer marketing. Be real. 

But what we certainly shouldn’t do is take the Fyre festival as a standard example from now on. It certainly doesn’t mean that this campaign has failed completely. In reality, it was a very successful campaign created by genius marketeers that were misinformed about the actual circumstances of the event by Bill’s lack of organization. 

Anyway, Influencer marketing continues to grow and remains one of the most effective marketing strategies in this online era. Over 92% of the millennials trust more Influencers than celebrities to promote a particular brand. What can we learn from  this experience? Influencer Marketing is a powerful tool to impact a business, but if it’s taken for granted and the brands promise is not delivered, its reputation can be ruined for a long time – If not permanently.