3 May

The Fyre Festival and the Power of Marketing

If you haven’t perused the internet in the last few days, you might be unfamiliar with the Fyre Festival, an immersive music event that promised island luxuries, musical performances, and legendary, over-the-top experiences. However, as attendees started to arrive to their island getaway in the Bahamas, they were met with the unfortunate reality that the Fyre Festival mirrored The Hunger Games rather than a millennial’s paradise. Yep. Disaster tents instead of glamorous villas. Cheese sandwiches instead of gourmet meals. Portable toilets instead of real bathrooms. If you’re anything like me, you’ve absorbed every second of this reality-TV-esque disaster, engrossed in the fascinating, disorganized mayhem that lead to such an incredibly epic fail.

What amazes me about the whole Fyre Festival fiasco is that it ultimately speaks to the power of PR and marketing. The event organizers started a fire (ha, get it?) with influencers, advertising, social media hype and demographic research to successfully promote an event. Some minor details fell behind, like food, lodging, electricity and waste management. But who cares where festival goers will use the bathroom when Blink 182 is playing!

The sequence of mismanaged logistics (which you can read about in detail here) unsurprisingly lead to a class action lawsuit. Fyre Festival is the ultimate example of what not to do in planning and executing an event, but it’s strangely a great example of marketing. The festival pitch deck, while riddled with ridiculous jargon, is worth a look. The brand aesthetic is well-executed, the influencer marketing is tailored to the target demographic and the messaging is consistent. The event organizers clearly knew their audience, what would grab their attention and what needs they should tap into. When the right decisions are made and the subsequent actions are executed well, that information is powerful. Like make-people-buy-thousand-dollar-tickets-to-live-out-Lord-of-the-Flies powerful.

Ultimately, Fyre Festival teaches us a few things: good marketing is a mighty force, well-tailored social media can lead to questionable, expensive purchases and Ja Rule can no longer do business in the Bahamas.