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One Thing Fyre Festival Did Get Right
8th May 2017

It was billed as a ‘once in a lifetime musical experience’ but in reality revellers were greeted by chaos. Poor accommodation, inadequate food and mishandling of baggage were just a few of the problems visitors to the Bahamian island of Great Exuma faced at the Fyre Festival this month.

With comparisons being drawn with the novels Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games, the event was a monumental cock-up. However, despite the disastrous organisation and false promises, Fyre Festival got one thing absolutely spot on.

When rapper Ja Rule and American entrepreneur Billy McFarland came up with the concept, they understood a simple truth - the key to sparking interest in such an event lies in using the right celebrities and influencers to promote it.

Social media influencers have become incredibly effective in recent years at turning the heads of younger people in particular – just the demographic Fyre Festival wanted to target.

Dubbed the ‘Fyre Starters’, Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid were among 400 influencers engaged to promote the festival on social media. Victoria’s Secret models came in their droves to the island, posing for promo shots on the beach and on yachts.

Celebrity endorsement created an enormous buzz. The only reason everyone’s talking about its failure is that we all knew Fyre Festival was happening. The campaign achieved over 1 million traditional and more than 300 million social media impressions – by any measure, that’s serious brand impact.

But having done the hard part, it’s just a shame the festival itself didn’t live up to the hype. All the promotional team’s good work ultimately counted for nothing.

After positioning themselves as a luxury music festival and charging as much as $12,000 for a ticket and up to $250,000 for some VIP packages, they simply didn’t have the logistics in place to meet expectations.

Fyre Festival managed the difficult task of gaining access to and securing the right celebrities to endorse the event but failed to get the simple things right. Putting on an occasion of this magnitude is a big undertaking but the budget was there and festival could have been something really special if more care had been taken over the practicalities.

The Fyre group are now facing a $100million lawsuit but the damage to their brand could prove even more costly. Ja Rule and Billy McFarland have already been banned by the Bahamas government from ever putting on an event in the region again. The whole incident serves as an example for brands of what can go wrong if they don’t deliver the quality they promise.

Here at Champions Celebrity Talent Management, we aim to ensure that, as well as securing the most effective celebrity endorsements, the brands we work with are not let down by substandard activation.

Look at England Rugby World Cup winner Neil Back’s work with beer brand Heineken. Negotiating an agreement with Heineken, we delivered Neil to star in a viral video tied in with the European Champions Cup. The video saw the former Leicester Tigers flanker pretend to confront fans at a fake press conference after they had sent derogatory texts to what they believed was Neil’s phone.

Now with over 130,000 views on YouTube, this is a perfect example of how, when done correctly, the combination of a celebrity’s involvement with a brand and a well-run event leads to success.

Now everybody has 24/7 access to social media, it is imperative brands get it right. If not they may face a Fyre Festival style backlash costing significant brand equity, something more valuable than mere money.

Hoping to move forward, Fyre Media have announced that they will be holding a festival in 2018 but this time in a US based location. They assured the media that they will bring in ‘more seasoned event experts’ but a telling question remains - have they already done irrevocable damage to their brand?

If you are a brand and would like to use a celebrity for one of your campaigns then get in contact with Champions Celebrity Talent Management. Call us on 08453 31 30 31 or email talent@championsukplc.com  and one of our dedicated team will get back to you.