Written by Dan George
It’s not been a good couple of weeks for Kendall Jenner, has it? First that Pepsi ad backfired, and now this.
For those out of the loop, when I say “this”, I’m referring to Fyre Festival – Ja Rule’s extravagant event for the rich kids of Instagram. Guests were promised a once-in-a-lifetime luxury experience in the Bahamas, with beautiful villas, gourmet meals and amazing live performances from huge stars.
Sounds fantastic. Only that’s not quite how it panned out. Instead, the Festival was promptly cancelled, amid reports of guests being held without food or water, disaster relief tents in place of those promised villas and even feral dogs roaming the camp. Seriously. Feral dogs.
There are a lot of comms lessons here, not least how to issue a proper apology (top tip: don’t say “I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT…”), but I think the biggest lesson can be learned by Kendall.
For she was one of a number of millennial influencers deployed to promote the event on social media (though those posts have since been deleted).
So, things could be going better. But why? Because she just keeps saying yes to everything. You can see the thinking of Festival ambassadors in the apology issued by fellow promoter Bella Hadid. She says both that she knew nothing about the project and that she felt able to endorse it.
That’s not a great decision-making process. And sure, you can get away with this once. Maybe even twice. But each occurrence erodes trust in an influencer’s brand. And when your audience no longer trusts you, they’ll stop buying. Then the brands will stop paying.
It seems that Kendall may still need to learn that most valuable of lessons. Yes, YOLO. But that’s no excuse for carelessness. Or put another way, brand strategy requires sacrifice. And that may mean turning away a quick buck today, no matter how big, to ensure there’s still something coming her way tomorrow.
Otherwise it won’t just be her clients people boycott, but her brand too.
Dan George is the creative lead at Aspectus.