Blurry Lines Come Into Focus in Netflix Fyre Documentary

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I watched the documentary, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, on Netflix last night. It’s totally worth the watch. Of course, for me, watching the movie was work. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Here at Double Forte we try to avoid the typical PR firm blog posts with lessons learned from the latest PR crisis in the headlines. But, sorry not sorry, I just can’t resist talking about Fyre now that the Netflix documentary, and a Hulu documentary, are all over the headlines.

The takeaways I want to share that are most relevant to our business are:

  • They’re called influencers for a reason. We’ve all seen the data that consumers trust influencers more than they trust brands, but the Fyre Festival brought that point home! To market an event, (that hadn’t even been planned yet!) the organizers flew some models/Instagram influencers to the proposed location for a weekend of frolicking on the beach and paid them to post about the future event. It worked. The event sold out with people buying tickets and VIP packages for thousands of dollars.
  • Instagram has clout! Most of the promotion for the event was done on Instagram, with the model/influencers using the hashtag #FyreFestival to share their island getaway posts. The pics fed into Instagram’s power source: its users aspirational desires to live a beautiful, photoshopped, white background and millennial pink kind of life. That dream sells!
  • Disclosure matters. When the festival turned out to be an epic fail, the influencers who had hyped it received a good amount of backlash. Kylie Jenner even removed her posts. And while some argued that models shouldn’t be held responsible when the products they rep have problems, the issue was that the posts appeared to be organic, when in fact they were sponsored. I often hear communications professionals – brand reps, agency reps and influencers – talk about the blurred lines of influencer relations/advertising. News flash: there are no blurred lines. The FTC has strict guidelines on disclosing influencer/brand relationships and they hold brands responsible for making sure those disclosures happen. You can’t fake organic and you must disclose. Period.

For more on the dumpster fire that was Fyre, we recommend: