Netflix’s documentary Fyre Festival: The Greatest Party That Never Happened was a sour entrée into the events industry for the world, but we know it’s the exception rather than the rule.
The film, which released last Friday, was a perfect case study on how not to run an event, and demonstrated the enduring appeal of failure in the press and media.
Fyre Festival was an expensive, almighty mess – the kind of car crash you can’t take your eyes off. But why is it that we rub our hands with maleficent glee when we see a bold vision fail spectacularly?
The events industry is all too aware of how the tabloid press only reports on festivals when someone dies of a drug overdose, or when a crowd of people illegally break into Wireless.
We seldom see The Daily Mail reporting on the sustainable innovations coming out of Shambala, the economic benefits of festivals, or The Loop’s pioneering drug testing work.
And as much as we could blame inflammatory tabloid practices, let’s not pretend we’re immune from schadenfreude: everybody finds some wicked satisfaction in watching somebody else fail.
Fyre Festival was born and died on social media, generating huge ticket sales thanks to a mysterious and cleverly pitched Instagram campaign, recruiting the most prestigious ‘influencers’ in the world.
But, for all Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid’s enthusiastic pouting, it was a viral picture of a slice of cheese between two tawdry pieces of bread which was the event’s downfall.
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What can we take away from Fyre Festival: The Greatest Party That Never Happened? Perhaps one line hit hardest to event planners:
“Instead of thinking about models, you’re gonna have to think about toilets”.
There are lessons to be learned about the dangers of viral marketing, and promising more than you’re able to deliver.
But, primarily, bosses Billy McFarland and Ja Rule were ignorant of the necessary lead times and practicalities of putting on a great event.
If only there was an informative festival and events publication that could’ve helped them?
The failures of Fyre would be nigh-on impossible to repeat without the same improbable cocktail of money, arrogance and delusion which the people behind the festival had.
Perhaps that delusion was most evident when Ja Rule, in a Skype call post-event, refuted an employee’s claim that Fyre had defrauded customers:
“No, man – it’s not fraud, it’s just…false advertising.”
The events industry is smarter than that. And while none of us are likely to be involved in such a monumental failure, perhaps the documentary can remind us to celebrate our own successes in 2019.
Here at Access, we’d much rather report on that than pour oil onto a fire of controversy.