Events are Basically Instagram Coming to Life

Fyre Fraud

For the past decade, we saw social media evolving and taking the world by storm. As each year passed, our now favourite platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have gained more and more power over us that allows them to shape our views and attitudes in unimaginable ways. The whole movement has not only allowed for celebrities to get more exposure but also made them into social media influencers who have become the trendsetters and human brands even more than ever before. Just add celebrity endorsements to a social media campaign and you will get a guide to a successful influencer marketing for your event.

A survey from WhoSay reports, 89% of U.S. agency and brand marketers believe influencer marketing can positively impact how people feel about their brand or product. This shines some light on why exactly Fyre Festival creators thought that involving Kendall Jenner to post a single Instagram post for £193,000 and launching a luxury marketing campaign with the other top 10 supermodels in the Bahamas was worth it.

From the event experiential marketing perspective, such an authentic and exclusive partnership for increasing event awareness is a sound idea and can lead to great results (Fyre Festival sold out in under 48h). The only problem here was the inexperienced event founder who was at the forefront of this whole fiasco, greedily robbing attendees of their money. Billy McFarland ignored all the financial warnings from his advising team and simply proceeded with promising to deliver the greatest music festival of all time. Through the influencer marketing, he was selling a false image of celebrities and influencers casually partying with attendees at the ‘luxury’ festival. Yet none of this was meant to be genuine.

Following the launch of the festival, hundreds of attendees and festival workers were left traumatised when Billy successfully fled the island. Bahamian locals who built the event site, camps and fed arrived attendees were left with nothing. He didn’t fix his disaster, he didn’t pay back the owned money, he didn’t live up to the expectations.

By creating misleading campaigns, McFarland defrauded millennials to pay him large sums of money for the vision they never received. He promised locals a 5-year event that will boost their economy. Billy is the one to be truly blamed for the Fyre Fraud and is now sentenced to six years in prison on multiple counts of fraud.

Rohan Midha, the managing director of influencer agency, said that while festival itself was a disaster, the influencer marketing behind it wasn’t. It simply goes to show how much power influencers have on the success of your event marketing.

Burning Festival

While involving influencers in your event marketing campaign can bring many positives, they can also affect the entire event culture. The lately spoken about non-for-profit Burning Man in Black Rock City is a great example this. The event that was supposed to decommodify its attendees, has increasingly changed towards marketing by becoming a tool for product launches and commercial photo shoots for Instagram.

You would wonder how is this affecting the attendees? Well, the original ‘burners’ used the event as an escape from financial and cultural restraints of mainstream society but with the elite attendees, the event has become more like an outside world. It simply goes against the event’s ethos.

For the past 3 years, event organisers have received backlash for enabling businesses to sell ‘all-inclusive,’ luxury event packages that attract influencers and rich demographic to Humano camp. The current ticket pricing is also discriminating against the original attendees of lower income. They believe Burning Man experience is meant to be a counterculture gathering of people from all backgrounds. No divide, no discrimination only harmony and uni.

By Melisa Bazane

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.