Fyre Festival: How a marketing paradise turned out to be the world’s biggest festive disaster

Business How To’s

28 February 2019

Fyre Festival: How a marketing paradise turned out to be the world’s biggest festive disaster

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

To give you a quick recap, the Fyre Festival is one of the biggest failed events the world has seen till date. Conceptualised and established by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc. (and also of the infamous Magnises startup that gave millennials a chance to live beyond their means; why that seemed like such a great idea no one knows) and rapper Ja Rule.

The festival, scheduled for April 28-30, 2017, on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma, promised a ‘transformative weekend’ and was promoted incessantly by influencers and socialites like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski. Naturally, the promotion got the attention of countless customers who, in their FOMO-driven rush, went ahead and booked tickets that were cheapest at $500 and going up to $1500. VIP packages at $12000 were astonishingly selling like hot cakes too.

So what went wrong really?

In a word, everything.

Fyre Festival goers were expecting a mind-blowing experience when they packed their bags for the weekend to Great Exuma, Bahamas. However, the reality they got was completely different. And the issues started even before they’d left American soil.

Festival goers thought they were signing up for a customised, VIP-configured flight. Instead, they were met with a crowded airport and chaotic, delayed departures.

And the nightmare got worse (as if it could) once they reached the Bahamas.

The party-goers were looking forward to spending two days in luxurious villas and eco-friendly domes. Instead, they were greeted with half-built huts to sleep in.

They were eager to be wined and dined by world-famous gourmet chefs. Instead they had to subsist on cold cheese sandwiches and salads with no dressing, served in makeshift food tents.

The promised line-up never turned up with many artists having cancelled their gig long before the festival, but none of this was conveyed to the customers until they got to the venue.

The crowds were expecting to party with friends for two weekends on pristine white beaches. What they instead did was struggle to just get a flight back home, which ended up becoming another disaster. Guests were stranded at the airport with no food or water, purportedly locked in a room.

Not exactly what the weekend deal was all about, was it?

Why did the Fyre Festival fail?

For starters, the founders really had no experience in organising an event of the scale that they had promised. What made it worse was that they didn’t live up to their commitments long before the festival had even begun.

The event was to have been organized at Norman’s Cay, an island previously owned by Pablo Escobar, a kingpin of the Medellin Cartel, but on the condition of anonymity. This clause was violated in the launch promo itself and the owners pulled out of the agreement. While McFarland was scrambling for alternate locations, the promos continued to mislead fans into believing they were to spend a glorious weekend at this exotic location.

A $4 million loan meant to be utilized for the event was lavished on arranging luxurious offices in Manhattan. And when McFarland approached organisers to help him with an event he had no clue about, he was taken aback to realize how deep his pockets would have to be. The leave-no-survivors internet abounds with rumours that McFarland is said to have Googled ‘how to rent a stage’ when he got desperate.

Comcast Ventures had planned to invest $25 million into the festival, but backed out a few days before, leaving McFarland scrounging for temporary financing, which he needed to payback within 16 days. He managed that by asking customers to transfer funds towards a smartwatch like RFID-equipped digital Fyre Band that would give them unlimited access to the festival. Advisors to the festival warned against this, citing poor Wi-Fi connection at the site, but McFarland in his trademark overpromise-and-underdeliver went ahead with the plans.

The Fyre Festival continued to fail to deliver on every count. There were no medical facilities, accommodation was below par with soaked mattresses, unfinished tents, lack of running water and poor quality food, no cellphone or internet service, and heavy handed security.

Points to ponder

Does the colossal disaster that was the Fyre Festival have any lessons for the rest of the world?

The question that plagues many investors is how McFarland successfully raised millions to fund his program that had massive loopholes in its initial investment deck itself.

How did some of the smartest investors become victims of this fraud? Do influencers play such an influential role that they can sell even the most badly-planned ideas to serious angel investors? Is being part of the ‘next big thing’ so exciting that people don’t bother to run the numbers and refrain from due diligence? Could a massive ‘vision’ have been sold purely on models in bikinis, social media celebrities and beautiful Instagram photos alone?

In hindsight, yes, there were signs, but it was all a smoke-and-mirrors trick that helped McFarland build a massive pile of cash out of nothing. Today he faces 8 lawsuits, with one of them seeking damages of $100 million. Last October McFarland pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

And Ja Rule? He was quick to post on Twitter that “it was NOT A SCAM” and “this is NOT MY FAULT”.

While dissecting the fiasco, many news organisations have drawn parallels between the festival and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The Fyre Festival will be studied for years as an example of how not to invest in a deal with a beautiful yet superficial vision.

Marketing During a Pandemic: Dos and Don'ts

Business How To’s

05 June 2020

Marketing During a Pandemic: Dos and Don'ts

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected business in ways beyond imagination. Market experts have estimated that COVID-19 will cost the global economy a whopping $2.7 trillion. This has not only scared businesses and marketers out of their wits but makes them ask – what to do next?

Unless you are in the business of essential products and necessity items, you need to change the way you have been marketing your brand.

Here’s a set of marketing guidelines for those trying to stay afloat in the present economic landscape.

Be agile.

Businesses that can adjust and adapt to the restrictive environment will be the ones to stay ahead of the others who fail to change their strategies. Just because you cannot serve your customers in person, doesn’t necessarily mean you stop serving them altogether. Include free services or change how you deliver. Abide by the hygiene practices issued by health authorities. If you are an offline business, now is the time to switch to online and be available 24/7.

Focus on paid ads.

With customers increasingly turning to online modes of information and entertainment, this is the right time to jump into PPC advertising and other paid digital campaigns to capture traffic and conversions. Cost Per Click rates are down, and this leaves room for marketers to make the most of the opportunity. Exploit the reduced competition and scoop up the market share, while others are pulling themselves out.

Offer flexibility of payment and services.

If you are in the retail business, (not necessarily in essential goods) and have managed to retain/acquire customers, offer the flexibility of payments to make it convenient for them in this tough economy. This helps you retain loyalty as well as ensures a consistent flow of customers by easing their payment plans. If you are in tech-based or SaaS services, offer more informative and educational training to your customers. With people losing jobs and looking for newer opportunities, such offers make for a good gesture and help them stay connected to your business.

Expand your social outreach

This is the perfect time to stay connected with your customers through social media and digital channels for information and support. Harness the power of interactive content, instant updates, and entertaining resources to interact with your customers/clients. This will make them feel included in your business even when you are not working in full capacity and would go a long way is your brand awareness and outreach.

Along with the above, remember:

Do not panic and make a hasty marketing strategy if there is a sudden shift in the market. Always use the available data and analyze your next move.

Do not game the market. Stock buying from wholesalers and reselling them at a hiked price might work in the short run but won’t be sustainable or become a legit business strategy.

Do not go silent on your customers. Always stay connected and let them know that you are present and striving to be in the business.

As COVID-19 continues to turn the world economy topsy turvy, businesses must make the most of every possible resource and avenues to make themselves heard and seen.

5 Myths about Coworking Spaces Debunked

Business How To’s

04 February 2020

5 Myths about Coworking Spaces Debunked

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

In a world where startups are booming, and more people than ever are venturing into entrepreneurship, a coworking space becomes a blessing! This has given rise to multiple shared working spaces in India.  Typically, coworking offices offer business-standard infrastructure, including cubicles and meeting rooms along with top-notch amenities for people who are early-stage-entrepreneurs – individuals or groups. They provide the perfect environment to grow creatively and financially as well as provide extensive networking opportunities.

However, as with anything new, multiple myths surround these shared spaces. These myths often don’t hold ground and need to be cleared for it not to become a hindrance in your way.

The top five myths around coworking include:

Myth One: Coworking offices are expensive.

 

A coworking space is never going to cost more than renting or buying an exclusive property. Usually, the charges are per seat or combined for a large team. Further, coworking offices often have great deals and discounts depending on your requirements.

When someone tries to build their own office space, the infrastructure is not the only cost at hand. One has to take care of electricity, appliances, hospitality support, etc. Whereas, all these things are together taken care of by the coworking provider. Hence, whenever you want to compare the costs, do take into account the miscellaneous expenses which are already included in the coworking space price.

Myth Two: Business privacy goes for a toss in a coworking space.

 

It is natural to think so, because unlike private self-owned offices, here you will be sharing the space with others as well. But it all depends on how you can utilize the space and make the most of the services provided by the provider. For confidential discussions, it is ideal to take a meeting room where the conversations remain private within the coworking spaces. So, it is all about where you are having those discussions; if you are careful, all information stays safe and private.

Myth Three: Working in a coworking office is the same as working from home or a coffee house.

 

Coworking spaces provide amenities and infrastructures that become a perfect fit for business and creativity. At home or a coffee shop, you might find the ideal corner, but will always miss out on the professional office vibes of a shared working space. The infrastructure itself differentiates it from an average coffee shop. Also, things like stationary, excellent wifi, hospitality support and tech assistance are things that coworking offices can offer.

Moreover, the most significant advantage of choosing a coworking space over cafes or home is that there will be less distraction. Also, not to forget, when one walks into a coworking, they walk into a pool of network where ideas can really grow. Often there are networking events and unwind sessions organized by the coworking centres that help businesses get inspired.

Myth Four: Coworking offices are too noisy!

 

You might assume that because it is a shared office space, the environment will be noisy, disturbing and unproductive. But the reality is, the atmosphere is extraordinarily conducive and calming. Nobody likes a place with constant chattering, so everyone makes conscious effort to make sure that their discussions are as silent as possible. Additionally, almost every coworking office will have open areas where people usually step out to have conversations, therefore, making the actual working area peaceful.

Myth Five: It is only for freelancers and extremely small groups.

 

It is a common misconception that coworking spaces are the go-to choice for only small-scale businesses. Step into any coworking space, and you would be surprised to see even mid-scale or big scale groups there. You can book as many seats as you want, which quashes the myth about limited space and seating in a coworking is absolutely false. It is all about making that inquiry call and opening the gateway to better opportunities and spaces.

With these myths debunked, one can be assured that there is no reason to be hesitant about opting for a shared office space.

Awfis offers excellently designed and competitively priced coworking offices across various locations in India. Walk into any one of our centres to witness practically designed spaces, calming décor, productive work areas and extensive networking opportunities. Visit an Awfis space today!

Marketing 101: How to Organically Build a Brand in a New High-Growth Category

Business How To’s

20 January 2020

Marketing 101: How to Organically Build a Brand in a New High-Growth Category

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Embarking on the journey of building a brand – especially one that belongs to a relatively new category – is no child’s play. It entails bridging the existing gaps in the sector while staying true to the brand vision. The competition may be significantly low, but so is the general awareness around the category. And this is where the challenge lies.

With renewed focus on flexibility, mobility & suiting the work preferences of the millennial workforce, most companies are adapting Coworking spaces. As per a Colliers International Report 2019l, the big jump in expansion has been in the last five years, between 2014 and end of 2018, where the number of flexible workspace sites expanded by +205% while the number of operators expanded by +138%The growth potential of the category is undoubtedly enormous, but how does one build the brand is a question that hovers around.

Here are the 5 steps of organically building a brand in a high-growth and new category.

Positively impact the stakeholders

Coworking spaces naturally have multiple stakeholders – landlords, brokers, tenants& own employees. Starting with the direct stakeholders is the most reasonable way of going forward as it gives one the leverage of word of mouth. It is a synergistic partnership where each stakeholder has a crucial role to play and reap benefits in return. For example, the landlord will only gain if more people opt for the coworking space. Again, the greater the number of tenants, the more popular the coworking space is likely to become. This in turn adds value to the tenant’s office location while also providing greater networking opportunities. It’s imperative that each employee/staff of the coworking space becomes a brand custodian & delivers as per the brand promise to the stakeholders at every step of the way.

Identify the high-impact touchpoints

Customers are everything to a brand; they are the reason the brand exists in the first place. Hence, identifying the right touchpoints is an integral part of brand building. For a coworking space to grow its brand, leveraging cost-effective yet highly impactful touchpoints is the key. Office buildings are the most effective to grab attention of office goers. Attention seizing building facades & signages at the entrance never go unnoticed and serve as high visibility touchpoints. While having hoardings and signages at prime locations can do the trick, there’s nothing cheaper and effective than online engagement, which brings us to the next step.

 Focus on real conversations/engagements online

The target audience for most coworking spaces is millennials, which is why a strong social media presence is crucial. Creating the brand’s own niche and building a community on social media can go a long way in ensuring maximum engagement.  For example, sharing relevant content and latest industry news, celebrating members’ successes, covering and promoting brand events, and raising awareness around causes close to the brand are highly effective in creating a conversation and building a community. It also goes on to show that the brand cares about its customers, thereby boosting brand image and presence.

Effectively use PR

A good public relations campaign is the backbone of building a strong brand image across offline and online channels. The PR campaign should essentially aid the brand’s objective of creating a niche. PR can be used as a robust tool to build thought leadership and establish a strong recall value. It is important to ensure that PR communications are consistent across all channels to achieve maximum impact.

Build brand partnerships

Affiliate marketing has been around for years and is one of the primary ways to drive traffic and generate sales. Coworking spaces can leverage this to reduce cost per lead while benefiting from the partner brand’s customer base & brand reputation.

Establishing tie-ups with brands by offering value to their customers through discounts on products/services is the right way. Coworking spaces can partner with BFSI companies, business hotels, retail brands, cab providers, etc. to delight customers on both sides. When done right, it also reflects brand’s genuine care for customers.

Coworking spaces are seeing a steady rise, thanks to incredible technological advancements and a shift in work cultures towards more flexible schedules. And if their branding game is top-notch, the opportunities to grow are tremendous.