The pair of Fyre Festival documentaries from Netflix and Hulu have some marketers asking more questions about their influencer marketing investment.
At Collectively, where founder Alexa Tonner said she has clients “just wanting to talk about what a crazy shitshow [Fyre Festival] looked like,” the consensus is that it overall proved how powerful influencer marketing can be — and how quickly it can go wrong if the actual product is unproven or simply goes up in flames. “They drummed up so much hype and excitement that they managed to sell out an extremely expensive festival by leveraging influencers in an over-the-top way. Smart brands who can deliver on their promise to consumers should pay attention to the approach,” said Tonner.
In some ways, Fyre’s “success” is that it managed to attract hundreds of people to an island and got them to pay for it shows that influencer marketing can work.
“What’s interesting with Fyre is that the influencers mostly did what they were supposed to, and I think the speed in which the festival sold out is a testament to their power,” said Ford CEO James Nord. “What I am seeing more of is influencers being careful about who they work with, and making sure they don’t get caught working with a company that is pushing an unsafe, untested or otherwise fraudulent product. I think there is a renewed respect in the community that your posts have real-world consequences, and if influencers are going to lend their brand equity to an advertiser they should do their due diligence.”
One of the things that’s come into sharper focus is the different types of influencers. There are the celebrities — people who are models or actresses who also have big followings. The other, said Sundae CEO Jeremiah Rosen, consists of people he describes as “contemporary influencers” who have built followings and navigated algorithms to create audiences.
Fyre used several models like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski, who worked on the so-called “promotional video.” But it was their behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram that helped ignite buzz, followed by the infamous “orange squares” that littered social media in the weeks following the video.