How The FYRE Festival Inspired My Auto-Marketing - PCG Digital

We all need inspiration from somewhere, even if that somewhere is the world’s biggest failed music festival in history.

If you’re unfamiliar with the festival (or lack thereof), allow me to give you a quick recap.

Rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland decided to throw a multi-million dollar music festival on a remote island in the Bahamas. Just a few features that were promised to festival goers included: Kendall Jenner, ocean-front villas, private jets, gourmet food, and every popular artist on the charts. The festival was sold out within 48 hours (with ticket packages valued in excess of $100,000) thanks to Jerry Media’s social media marketing campaign. However, when festival goers arrived, they were confronted with hurricane tents instead of ocean-front villas, rain-soaked air mattresses, cheese on bread (I guess that was gourmet in college?), and no music. The festival ended up being named the world’s biggest failed music festival in history.

Of course, fraud is wrong. Misleading marketing is wrong. Not paying workers for their labor is wrong. But how do you overlook a marketing strategy that convinced hundreds of millennials to fork over their money without a second thought?

Being a millennial myself, I will speak for a majority of us when I say we are consumed by social media. According to Biz Journals, the average person consumes 4,000 ads daily. Scrolling like our thumbs were created for that and nothing else, it takes a truly skilled marketer to know how to make those thumbs stop.

Jerry Media made those thumbs stop.

The hype around the festival began with 400 influencers and an orange tile on Instagram. Famous supermodels like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner shared a mysterious orange tile to their Instagram pages with a link to the Fyre Festival homepage. Yes, just an orange tile. But in a sea of beautiful women, delicious food, and vacations no average person will ever go on, an orange tile indeed makes your thumb stop.


This concept of color disruption on social media had me thinking. If Billy McFarland could do it, why couldn’t I (minus the fraud)? As a social media marketer in the automotive industry, I see first hand how difficult it can be to create graphics that are effective. You need to stand out before your competition does.

One of my clients, a Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealer, wanted to showcase their new 2019 models as part of their social media strategy. I quickly thought, “okay, how am I going to get qualified shoppers to stop and look at this ad?” Then it hit me like a wave of Fyre. Color disruption. I collaborated with our incredible graphic designer to create a social media campaign that focused around bright, popping colors that would be sure to stand out in a newsfeed, much like that orange tile. After running for one month at just $300, the campaign generated 27,260 impressions, 345 landing page views, and 460 link clicks.

When creating social media campaigns in the automotive space, it is crucial to create graphics that stand out in a newsfeed. The second you publish a graphic that looks like an ad, it’s going to be responded to as an ad (for millennials and generation z, that means little to no response). For me, something as simple as turning on a Netflix documentary on a Thursday night ended up turning into a successful auto-marketing campaign. What’s more of a win than that?

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