Fyre Festival… an exclusive music festival in the Bahamas glittered with celebrities and millionaires and complete with a gourmet cuisine experience, private jets and glamorous private villas.
Watch the full video here.
At least, that’s what the festival and its paid celebrity influencers promoted as they starred in promotional videos and posted sponsored Instagram posts. Kendall Jenner was reportedly paid $250,000 and her model-friends including Bella Hadid were paid $10,000 per post. If you’ve been following the story the past couple weeks, you’ve seen what a nightmare Fyre Festival turned out to be on so many levels. Check out this timeline of cringeworthy events surrounding the ordeal.
So should influencers like Jenner and Hadid be held accountable for a partner’s PR nightmare? It depends on how you look at it, but consider this: an influencer is a sort of spokesperson. Would a spokesperson for a large company or government agency be held accountable for their employer’s wrongdoings? Would a PR professional be held accountable for telling lies – even if they didn’t know they were lies – for a client? You bet they would. All of which, makes the case for protecting your personal and professional brand.
Fyre Festival could (and should) be a turning point in how influencers work with brands. As much as they would like to accept cash in exchange for promoting a brand, they will likely become more selective and do their due diligence to ensure business deals have no potential to reflect poorly on their personal brands. Some celebrities might dismiss these opportunities completely as a precaution for their reputation.
When it comes to celebrity influencers, a Fyre-style fiasco isn’t a huge deal in the long term and they will still be able to find work. But according to an article this week in Adweek, people will start to understand “the celebrity wasn’t actually endorsing it, but it was a business relationship” and the result will be decreased trust in celebrity influencers. Further, we expect the FTC will crack down even harder on paid influencers who do not include #ad or #sponsored in these posts, which is a legal requirement.
On the other hand, let’s say a local food blogger/influencer is paid to promote a new restaurant, but a week after the grand opening, 10 people have been hospitalized with food poisoning after eating there. It later turns out that the influencer hadn’t actually eaten there and was simply paid for posting. I’m not sure I’d trust this person for advice anymore… would you? As a result, the influencer would likely lose significant trust from his or her small but passionate following. Once you lose credibility in the eyes of your audience, it’s nearly impossible to regain. Just ask Brian Williams, formerly of NBC News.
Adweek’s article also explains that long-term brand-influencer relationships need to become the new norm and “this paid for posting crap has to go away.” Think of Peyton Manning for Nationwide. I mean, seriously, can you ever get “Chicken parm, you taste so good” out of your head? I know I can’t.
We’re looking forward to seeing how influencer marketing evolves in this ever-changing landscape. What are your predictions? Let us know on social media.