Fyre Festival: an expensive lesson in online hype

Our latest Nordens TV video covers the Top 10 Business Tips that will help you start, grow or diversify your business. If you follow them, then you have the best chance of succeeding, even when market conditions may not be the most favourable. But you also need to protect yourself against those who appear supportive, integral even, in helping you achieve your dream, because they just might be a self-serving, amoral narcissist who’s only interested in their dream. Can you guess who I’m talking about? If the name Billy McFarland doesn’t ring a bell, then maybe the 2017 Fyre music festival will; the story behind it is a salutary lesson in how easy it is to get sucked in by the hype.

26-year-old McFarland was the force of nature behind the Fyre Festival, which billed itself as the ultimate VIP music getaway to the Bahamas. To generate immediate interest and advance bookings, he paid supermodels to be in his commercials and then paid them even more to post about Fyre afterwards. The commercials had exceptionally high production values, and each model millions of Instagram followers; the combination was intoxicating and potent and the constant streaming of images kept the excitement leading up to the event high at all times.

We know advertising works, and Fyre’s worked really well with some people paying more than $100,000 to enjoy a weekend of private planes, amazing music and gourmet food. But when they got there, there was nothing. No acts, no accommodation, no food, just a long wait for a return flight home. What went wrong? Well, apart from the money running out, the planning that needed to be done well in advance of such a project, just wasn’t done but, as McFarland had no experience in the music industry, and an inability to take advice, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But how he got the money in the first place, which funded a pretty amazing lifestyle in the build-up to the festival, was totally fraudulent. As it turns out, every financial fact and figure, the ‘results get results’ point that Mitch makes in Nordens TV, was a lie. He used his so-called success in a selling his previous business for $40 million, to get investors onside, but there was no $40 million, just a very convincing liar, who left a lot of people in debt.

Social media is very powerful in influencing decisions, and it’s easy to get sucked in by charismatic operators, but that’s why it’s important to question everything and, if you haven’t got the expertise to do this, pay someone who can, and it would be money well spent.