Fyre Fest promoters raise questions about influencer ethics
In the age of digital media, the marketing goal of many brands is to increase engagement and interaction with what they're selling. A majority of the time this involves using social media influencers and celebrities that have massive followings to promote a product that may or may not work. In the case of the infamous Fyre Festival, celebrities including Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid did just that.
Although the majority of the blame was placed on the mastermind behind the scam, Billy McFarland, it’s worth noting that social media influencers had some fault in this scandal.
A lot of influencers have gained a following because of their ability to connect with viewers on a personal level. While this may work to the advantage of the influencer, it’s often overlooked just how much it affects fans who choose to engage.
This is the case as it pertains to YouTubers and just how much of an influence they have on what their viewers buy and do within their daily lives. Take the beauty and cosmetic industry for instance.
For years, beauty standards imposed on women worldwide have caused many to buy beauty products in pursuit of enhancing their features. There also exists the extreme measure of getting plastic surgery to look like someone that society says is the ideal image of what it means to be beautiful.
Take the Kardashians, for instance. Not only have they become reality television royalty as a result of their show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” but they also took over the social media world simply because they're considered the ideal women.
More than 90 percent of women aged 18 to 24 are unhappy with at least one body part, according to a survey conducted by Forbes. Americans spend $16 billion per year on cosmetic surgery, which may be a result of this common dissatisfaction.
When it pertains to beauty influencers — regardless if they're reviewing a product that they don’t like — they're promoting products to millions of subscribers that try them despite personal preference.
People are more inclined to follow an influencer if they have aesthetically pleasing visuals, according to Olapic. It doesn’t really matter how applicable the product is.
Although many influencers are promoting something just to turn a profit, what they don't realize is the detrimental effects their actions have on consumers tuning in each week to see what their favorite influencer is doing.
Additionally, when it pertains to the fans of prominent celebrities such as the Kardashians, the amount of work involved for a notable celebrity to advertise the product is minimal. Sometimes, all it takes is a teaser video of models promoting a music festival and people jump on board.
Jenner and Hadid may not have been aware of the aftermath of consumers attending the festival, but they're aware of the ramifications their actions have as a result of being in the public eye.
And yes, the celebrities more than likely had no idea what the outcome of the festival would be. But when promoting something such as a music festival in another country, should there be a guideline that an influencer or celebrity follows?
At the end of the day, the more consumers are exposed to digital media and the products being promoted, the easier it will become to swindle consumers, just as easily as Billy McFarland did to profit from Fyre Festival. Although it’s very hard to completely eliminate the amount of exposure to things surrounding digital media, it seems that the only way is to hold celebrities accountable for their actions.