Fyre Festival 2 is why there’s no “slow season” in marketing & branding

September 7, 2023

Billy McFarland may not be human. Rising like a felonious Phoenix from the ashes of Fyre Festival and 2.5 years in jail for fraud, he’s not letting failure or prison slow him down. He’s already announced Fyre Festival 2, claims to have sold 100 tickets at $500 each, and has the shamelessness to brag that Fyre Festival “has been the most talked about festival in the world” since 2016.

Fyre Festival has indeed been in the headlines for almost a decade, but not for the reasons McFarland implies. The original Fyre Festival drew celebrity endorsements and promised a Bahamas vacation with top performers. Instead, it was an inauspicious dud in a parking lot across from a hotel.

But McFarland doesn’t seem to care about the truth. He showed a CBS affiliate ticket receipts totaling $45,000 – so assuming that the ticket sales are accurate, he’s taken the old adage, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” to a brazen new level.

The lesson for leaders is that you can never not invest in marketing and branding. In a global economy with an overwhelming amount of information coming at us, someone like McFarland can still get people to buy his claims and his tickets.

Here’s how to take this lesson into the world of reaching target audiences.

Overcome message saturation by building real relationships with stakeholders

The global digital marketplace is simply overwhelming. Our phones, gas stations, TVs, and computers throw ads at us all day – and even when we’re not looking at screens, we’re driving or walking by ads on business signs and billboards.

And people like McFarland know it. They’re counting on us to forget they’re con men (and women).

That’s why it’s important to use your marketing & branding strategy to build real relationships with target audiences. Surveys and consumer data platforms can provide granular information that informs media placements, influencer endorsements, and advertisements. This can create more value for current customers, investors, and other stakeholders; and attract valuable prospects who might otherwise choose your competition. E-mail open rates, website visits, time on websites, and sales are when you know that the influence is working.

This is also why there is no such thing as a slow season for marketing and branding. Target audiences need to remember you most when business is slow because you’re not top of mind for how they use their wallets. It takes years to build a brand…but only a few months to become a lost memory because the competition isn’t slowing down.

If you aren’t speaking with stakeholders, somebody else is. And without having real relationships, great brands won’t be able to distinguish themselves from the McFarlands of the world.

Remember that embarrassment is so 20th century

 The world’s collective memory span is so small that politicians openly admit that surviving a scandal merely requires pushing through the fallout until the next news cycle. And many people’s lives are so public that we’ve forgotten how to be embarrassed.

 This means that you can’t host a drink celebrating the competition’s demise. You must bury the competition’s embarrassment beneath your narrative about your quality products and service. Otherwise, someone like McFarland can claim to be back in the game with CBS-level coverage that should have gone to someone providing real value.

PR is powerful…but easily forgotten

Short attention spans and market saturation means that no brand can sit on its laurels. McFarland has gotten a lot of bad PR…but people are overwhelmed and may not notice. It’s every organization’s job to get its reputation rocket off the ground, through the atmosphere, and into outer space – where the message can be disseminated at scale across the global marketplace.

A version of this piece was originally published by Dustin Siggins & RJ Caster at PR News Online. 

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