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No, Influencer Marketing Didn’t Create the Fyre Festival Disaster

By now, you’ve heard all about Fyre Festival — the disastrous would-be music and lifestyle festival that turned into a spring break from hell for attendees. The aftermath has now stretched out into a revived news cycle as well, with lawsuits and investigations coming at the event’s organizers from all sides, according to a weekend report by the New York Times. A large customs bill is also preventing $10 million worth of staging equipment from being removed from the Bahamas as well.

Typically, when a product doesn’t deliver on a promise to consumers, we know who is to blame: the product company, of course. Even when it fails in spectacular fashion like this.

Unless, that is, you choose to (somehow) point a finger at the influencer marketing around the event instead. It ends up several misguided marketers and journalists have done just that this week. Even the aforementioned New York Times took a shot at blaming influencers for the outcome of an event they had no control over.

Within both articles, the authors put the onus on influencers to more thoroughly vet who’s paying them, to make sure mishaps like Fyre Festival don’t happen again. These statements sound noble — and yes, you should always know who’s handing you money. But should influencers ultimately be responsible for vetting and researching a festival they’re promoting — and then take additional responsibility for the organizers’ failures in execution?

By those standards, Woodstock ’68 would have been classified as a disaster, too!

Celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and the other high-profile names enlisted to spread the word on Fyre Festival weren’t hired to inspect venues, book musical acts and make sure food services were up to par. In some instances, they’re not even paid to go to events like this at all. They’re promoters, plain and simple. Does every ad agency and TV network do the same with every product they advertise? Hardly.

Working with professional influence marketing companies, it’s possible to filter the match for the brand and influencer upfront, then confirm the source of income is legitimate and reputable. The extra legwork on their part prevents instances like this from happening in the first place in addition to confirming that all posts are FTC compliant. This is also a massive legal and regulatory issue for the Fyre Festival influencer campaign.

In an increasingly ad-blocked world, using talent creatively can deliver effective marketing pull-through. WIth that opportunity still very much intact, now is not the time to handcuff the potential of influencers. It takes an astounding amount of gymnastics to blame influencers for an event like this. The failure is not on the part of the influencer, but the organizer.

The same goes for any endorsement, whether it’s Fyre Festival, a hotel stay or a magazine cover. An endorser simply cannot be expected to control every aspect of the product. But both sides can work with the right professional companies to help keep them from being embroiled in a mismatch in the first place.

Steve Ellis is CEO and Founder of WHOSAY, the brand-trusted influence marketer. Ellis co-founded WHOSAY in 2010 and oversees company strategy and operations.