Lessons from the Fyre Festival Documentaries

A few months ago the internet blew up with news about the Fyre Festival documentaries that were premiering on Netflix & Hulu — same topic, different documentary. In case you missed it, the Fyre Festival was slated to be a massive music festival intended to be the modern-day luxury Woodstock. 

It wasn’t. 

What it was, instead, was a clusterfuck of poor planning and even poorer execution that resulted in social media going crazy over how hundreds of people lost thousands of dollars to attend an event that never came to pass. 

The documentaries, each in their own unique style, illustrated how this event, and the aftermath, played out. After watching both, and having a hearty laugh, it hit me that there were many lessons to be learned from what transpired, especially for those of us in the entrepreneurial space. 

For better or for worse, influencer marketing works.

What caused, probably, the biggest stir of the entire “Fyre Fraud” was the hand that influencers and influencer marketing played in it. Leading up to what was supposed to be the event launch, dozens of influencers were tapped to promote the event — be it by posting the now infamous orange tile with the festival hashtag or by traveling with the event coordinators to shoot essentially a very elaborate commercial. 

These influencers sold potential attendees a lifestyle, and their audiences bought into it — hence the thousands of dollars lost. Further proof that influencer marketing was pivotal in the potential success of the event was that when things went south, people considered holding those very same influencers just as acceptable as the event producers. 

People buy from people.

This would’ve been the first of this festival — it’d never been done before, not to this magnitude, and yet people were willing to spend their money to attend. No questions asked, the targeted audience was all in, down to the final wire. 


Because people buy from people. 

They wanted a piece of the lifestyle that their favorite influencers were sharing with them, and they trusted them, so they bought their tickets, loaded their wristbands, secured their flights, and headed out to this very unknown event. 

A little bit of marketing goes a long way.

Can you believe that the marketing campaign for this entire event was spearheaded by an orange tile? I kid you not — everyone involved in the event posted an orange tile on their feed, essentially forcing you to stop scrolling, with the relevant festival hashtags. 

No one had heard of Fyre Festival and yet, people stopped scrolling and wanted to know more. This built up interest and anticipation, so as more information came out by way of video clips, people were already all in and ready to take flight. 

With the right team, even the craziest ideas can come to life.

The biggest takeaway from the documentaries was how everyone realized long before the event that this was a crazy undertaking, but rather than pull the plug, everyone involved just kept feeding the machine. 

As it got closer and closer to the intended event date, it started becoming painfully clear that this was not going to be what was promised but the team behind it all kept finding new ways to solve massive problems, and at the eleventh hour, it even started to seem like they might’ve even pulled this thing off because everyone involved was willing to do whatever it took to make this a success. 

While the Fyre Festival was a hot mess, if I ever did see one one, each of the documentaries produced by Netflix and Hulu did a great job on shedding light on a part of the business world that we can all learn from.