By Kait Shea
If there’s one word that defines the power of influencer marketing, it’s authenticity. But in the wake of fraudulent sponsorships, a lack of transparency in paid social posts and, of course, 2017’s doomed Fyre Festival, both consumers and brands are losing faith in the once-bourgeoning channel. That growing distrust can, in part, be attributed to not only the Fyre Festival fiasco itself, but two recent, eye-opening documentaries that revealed what happened behind the scenes of the failed affair, including the organizers’ influencer strategy.
Some believe the fate of the industry may depend on how quickly brands and their influencer partners clean up their act. That means avoiding surface-level, one-off partnerships in favor of long-term relationships with influencers. And making sure influencers are adhering to the FTC guidelines, which the government is watching more closely than ever, thus eliminating the “grey space” that used to exist.
Naturally, the documentaries had marketers buzzing, so we surveyed the landscape to glean insights on how the industry is responding to the documentaries and the opportunities to reassess the space that grew up so quickly as a result. Here’s what we uncovered.
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1. The industry is still counting on (and spending on) influencers.
The idea that a brand-new festival (featuring zero sponsors) could generate the level of hype that Fyre Festival earned in such a short time says a lot about the power of influencer marketing at large. And despite the fiasco, the space is as strong as ever. According to Mediakix’s 2019 Influencer Marketing Survey, 80 percent of marketers stated that influencer marketing is an effective tactic, and 65 percent reported plans to increase their influencer budgets in 2019.
2. The viral nature of the documentaries is telling.
The Fyre Festival debacle may have taken place in 2017, but thanks to the widespread consumption of the Hulu and Netflix documentaries, both of which were released this past January, the cultural phenomenon lives on—and so do the marketing opportunities to capitalize on it. It seems the public can’t learn enough about an event that went so very wrong.
Entertainment company SelfieCircus, for instance, trolled the festival’s organizers with a pop-up “Fyre Experience” in an abandoned cupcake shop in Beverly Hills in late January. The stunt featured photo ops with cardboard cutouts of the influencers who promoted the festival, along with its condemned creator, Billy McFarland; a baby dressed up like Ja Rule; a plane installation featuring a replica of the viral cheese sandwich photo from the real festival; and a pool of Evian water bottles with T-shirts to match (a nod to a scandalous moment revealed in the Netflix documentary). The pop-up lasted a single day before, right on par with the real event, it was abruptly “cancelled.”
Similarly, Shutterstock capitalized on the craze by recreating the infamous Fyre Festival promo video …read more