Have influencers felt the burn of Fyre?

I’m obsessed with Netflix at the moment – between removing everything from my life that doesn’t offer joy (thanks Marie Kondo) and being on the edge of my seat watching Fyre Festival, Netflix are killing it at the moment.

For those of you who haven’t seen the documentary, Fyre Festival (where have you been?!) Fyre Festival began with a story-style advertisement, which now has over 4 million views.

The Instagram page, website and overall aesthetic was a marketers dream – sunset, beaches, the most famous influencers, celebrities and models. All of this packaged in a stunning online presence, a beautifully choreographed Instagram profile, an all signing, all dancing website and sponsored posts by the rich and famous.

In reality, the five star accommodation transpired into disaster relief tents, luxury meals consisted of two slices of dry/brown bread (brown bread, of all choices) and cheese. Dogs roamed the luxury space, the attendees 5* service included soggy mattresses, no water, no air conditioning, no electricity. Sounds like a dream, I know.

But, within the PR and marketing world, influencers and models took the heat and were blamed for the failure of the event, not the organisers.

An article from Wired stated that ‘the influencer model is now in jeopardy. And maybe that’s not a bad thing’. Many articles offered similar opinions, following the disaster of the event.

Now, during a two hour lecture, my attention can sway, but surely the overarching aim of a marketer/influencer is to sell to people and increase sales via different mediums?

I believe the organisers should be held accountable, who were obviously out of their depth. When looking at online articles, Tweets, blog posts, YouTube videos, it was clickbait, dramatised and heightened (shout-out to A-Level journalism for that analysis). Many stating that influencers where on their last legs, YouTube is on the final countdown and Instagram business-users should be having a mental breakdown as we speak.

But, public relations is defined as a ‘strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics’. And the more research one does, the more you begin to realise that influencer relations, within PR and marketing, can be dated to the mid-1900’s.

In 1931, Santa was introduced as the Face of Coca-Cola – a well know, respected character was used as the face of a product to increase sales. This, in no way, differs when a YouTuber claims they are obsessed with a product in their latest video. Granted Zoella might not have a white beard and red suit, but the same message is passed over the consumer.

So, in my opinion, the influencers shouldn’t be taking the heat for the disaster what is Fyre Festival. Nevertheless, I do believe that marketers and businesses can take essential learnings from the flop.

Brand Loyalty // It’s all well and good getting the elite of the celebrity world to endorse your product, it’ll bring a huge amount of exposure to your product. However, such celebrities are only doing so because of the large pay cheque waiting for them. In order for businesses to effectively grow their brands, they should look towards those, who may have a smaller following, but are more loyal to the brand. Viewers are going to identify authenticity within the sponsored posts and in turn will generate more sales.

Content // It’s important, yes, but why spend hours pouring over a professional editing suite when the video is only going to be posted on Instagram and YouTube? The organisers of Fyre Festival poured hours into their promo video, but they were on a remote island with limited WIFI and electric. Instead of increasing budget for content product, brands should turn to a core content team, where the overall output might not be as stunning, but places the product/service in a genuine and honest setting.

Honesty // Frye festival organisers messed up and instead of taking the heat. They tired to cover up the disaster with lies, false hope and deception. Which, obviously, didn’t work. If a business makes a mistake, it’s better to own up and face the music. Communicate honesty to your customers, post an official statement – it will be hard to do so, but there is a greater chance that the trust consumers once had, can be rebuilt again.

Alex Slaine is a Third Year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He is currently working as Media and Education Intern at Intel Ireland on his placement year. He can be found on Twitter – @alexslainee; and LinkedIn – Alex Slaine

 

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