fyre festival

The Fyre festival was (supposed to be) a luxury VIP festival experience for affluent people, packaged as vacation get-away – combining music concerts, food, art and exploration on a private island in the Bahamas. Instead, it turned out to be a modern manmade disaster and one of the most infamous events of 2017. The Fyre festival was primarily marketed for promoting the Fyre music booking app.

Here are 5 important lessons that marketing people can learn from “The Greatest Party That Never Happened”

Sell the experience, not the product

From the start, it was clear that Billy McFarland (co-founder – Fyre) was selling an experience. The Fyre festival was positioned as a “cultural experience of the decade”, aiming to oust the likes of Coachella, Tomorrowland etc. He (along with co-founder and rapper Ja Rule) marketed this as an eclectic extravagant experience amalgamating a music fest, a luxury vacation retreat and a culinary experience. All this was cleverly sold through video snippets and photos of the picturesque locales across of the island. Without even mentioning the line-up of performing artists, the type of cuisine that would be on the menu and the different activities planned, these wanderlust-filled posts worked like a charm.

fyre festival

Influencer marketing, Love it, hate it but please just do it

Today, it’s almost impossible to undervalue, let alone ignore the worth of influencer marketing. By roping in the cream of global pop-culture influencers such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Emily Ratajkowski to campaign Fyre and have them tell the world that they would be at the extravagant gala on the island, helped sell an aspiration, a utopia, if we may. Not to mention, 1000s of high priced tickets.

social media

Social Media is the new mainstream

Social media is a platform for the current generation to project their world and their stories. What better forums to document and share envious lifestyles, and experiences of extravagant opulence, than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube? The marketing for Fyre festival was, for more reasons than one, an Instagram led campaign. The combination of exotic locations, stunning bikini clad models and influencers flooding Fyre festival’s timeline sold the fest experience. The photos and videos virally shared organically across platforms just made the whole marketing exercise seem like a breeze.

digital advertising

The internet doesn’t forgive or forget

Now here’s the other side to social media. Over the years, the internet has become an unforgiving place. The concept of ‘freedom of speech’ has been exercised to its limits, and the opinions and views of the digital natives have catalysed change; positive or negative. Brands have gone back to their earlier interface in a matter of hours (read Instagram scrolling debacle) and celebrities have quit platforms like twitter and Instagram.  

The criticisms that were lashed out at Fyre were trending, and also a subject of satirical humour by the rest of the internet world. Two of the most widely shared issues were the type of accommodation and rich cuisine advertised vs the actual accommodation and the food provided. Fyre took a beating.

fyre fiasco

Make sure someone’s got your back

With the series of unfortunate events transpiring one after the other, The Fyre festival was beyond redemption. The saving grace (if any) could have been through a strong PR + ORM team and strategy in place. This would have helped subdue the crisis a bit. However, the exact opposite happened.

The PR team didn’t bother answering questions from concerned concert goers about flight details, amenities like lodging, water services etc. Instead, any comment remotely harbouring criticism was immediately taken down. All queries were welcomed with the automated response, “We apologize for the inconvenience as we are experiencing overwhelming demand. We will get back to you just as soon as we can.”   

Once things got out-of-hand, the PR team finally offered a public press release statement which was had severe undertones of apathy across its ‘concerned’ stance.


Don’t let your mouth write checks you’re a** can’t cash

An event that is successfully executed is only the result of an event that is successfully planned.

The marketing team can’t commit to anything that cannot be delivered by the operations department. Similarly, if all the time, efforts and budgets are spent on the event without properly marketing it, it would not be a success.

The Fyre festival showcased a clear mismatch between the marketing and operations. We’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the latter as they had clearly aired their concerns about the timelines beforehand, only to have fallen on deaf ears.

It is for this very reason, that all the stakeholders involved in planning and executing the event, stay on the same page so that the event goes on to make headlines…for all the right reasons.

If you liked this article and are all ‘Fyred’ up to know more about this spectacle, you should check out the documentary that recently released on Netflix, titled “Fyre”.

Share this post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.