Could PR Crises Impact Influencer Marketing?

Racepoint Global

Racepoint Global takes a look into the Fyre Festival disaster, and the role of influencer marketing.

As warm weather of spring and summer arrives, so do the music festivals. Many, like Coachella and Lollapalooza, have been around for years and operate like well-oiled machines. However, an exception occurred this spring that will go down in infamy- Fyre Festival. If you didn’t see promotions for it prior to the event, you were certainly made aware of it after the fact.

Fyre Fest was promoted as luxury music festival in the Bahamas with ticket prices ranging from $1,200 to $12,000. Celebrity influencers like Kendall Jenner (who has recently received other backlash from the media) and Bella Hadid, were paid to convey the trendiness and exclusivity of the event on platforms like Instagram to drive ticket sales. This all worked as planned, attracting thousands to purchase tickets to the festival. But when it came time for the most important part, the customer experience didn’t live up to the promotions.

Although event organizers should have fingers pointed at them for the failure of Fyre Fest, social media influencers who touted it are now also being blamed.

The issue was at the core of the event, being that it was badly organized or not at all. Although the high-profile influencers were the face of the event, they shouldn’t be blamed for basic planning and management not happening.

However, it should be a responsibility of influencers to do their own research on what they’ve been asked to promote, just as a company would do to have confidence in their influencer. It’s easier to sell something and create quality content for others if you believe in it.

A natural instinct for organizations is to want to sign on a celebrity to develop content that supports their brand. Why not, they have large social followings and people tend to listen to what celebrities say. This has been a common tactic in advertising for decades.

But credibility can easily be lost if the only thing an influencer’s appeal is based on is their celebrity status.

To counter celebrity influencers, micro influencers with smaller but more targeted followings can be very useful to brands. They tend to have credibility and knowledge in specific areas and feel passionate about them. They can speak to a topic from experience and with integrity. They have an engaged audience who will interact with their content.

Although the use of social media influencers backfired for Fyre Festival, influencer marketing overall isn’t dead. An important learning from it is, as an influencer, an opportunity might look great on paper, but some research should be done to confirm this. On the flip side, an influencer might look perfect for a brand on the surface, but should also have the credibility and knowledge to be able to market successfully.


Written by Amanda Dalton, Account Executive at Racepoint Global