Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong – Why Sunny Co Clothing and Fyre Festival Missed the Point

We love seeing great influencer marketing campaigns, but unfortunately, the marketing world is not always sunshine and rainbows. Recently, Fyre Festival and Sunny Co Clothing executed campaigns that will probably not make their way into the “hall of fame” of influencer marketing campaigns. 

The two companies used different approaches towards influencer marketing: Fyre Festival used infuencers to promote their festival that took place for the first time this year. Sunny Co Clothing, on the other hand, used a promo code and a free product to raise awareness for the brand.

Sunny Co Clothing

The most recent example of influencer marketing gone wrong is Sunny Co Clothing’s swimsuit disaster. The brand sparked interest during the last few days on Instagram due to a very generous giveaway.

Sunny Co Clothing
Sunny Co Clothing is a California-based apparel online store that sells skirts and bathing suits and uses numerous influencers to promote its products. The brand’s account had a rather small amount of Instagram followers in the four-digit range prior to their recent giveaway.

But the follower numbers quickly escalated after this posting was published on May 2:

Sunny Co Promotion

Basically, all you had to do to receive a swimsuit for free was repost the picture within 24 hours and tag the brand in it to get a code that was valid for the brand’s online shop.

Although the rules did not mention that following the brand’s account was necessary for receiving the code, the channel’s follower number increased significantly: The brand now has around 790,000 followers, thus having gained around 745,000 followers with just one post.

The engagement on this post is noticeably higher than the average. The LFR for the post is 42.95%, and with a post performance of 4.43, the post performs a lot better than average. This post received 125,1k comments, the posting before this one only received 5,412 comments.

Sunny Co Clothing Post Performance Sunny Co Posting 2

Data © InfluencerDB

So far, this sounds like a dream come true for every marketer.

But here is the catch:

The company clearly did not prepare well enough for the amount of feedback it received. Users’ Instagram feeds were flooded with reposts of the original posting.

Additionally, the company’s website was not set up correctly for the promotion, as people reported having been able to order a large amount of bathing suits with the promo code and only having to pay for shipping and handling anyways.

A few hours after the post, the brand seems to have noticed the problem and published a new set of rules. It also gave out the promo code right away in the new posting. And suddenly, the brand disabled comments for both posts.

Sunny Co Rules

Obviously, Instagram users did not like the sudden change of rules in the middle of the promotion, which slowly started to feel like a scam and users wondered if the company will ever be able to send out those thousands of free swimsuits.

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Even before the end of the promotion, all swimsuits on the website, including the one that was given away with the promo code, were sold out.

Sunny Co Clothing’s owners now published a posting and apologized for the confusion that went along with the promotion, clarifying that they will do their best to send out swimsuits to all participants and donating a portion of the earnings to a good cause.  The Instagram channel seems to have been deactivated in the meantime. 

Sunny Co Apology

In the end, the promotion might have been a huge success regarding overall sales on the website, but if the company will not be able to keep their promises and cannot manage to send out the products to all participants, the campaign might just as well turn into a PR disaster for the brand.

It might be a blunt saying but there is truth to it: Do not promise something you cannot keep! Fans of the brand already seem to notice that the promotion might not have been such a good idea after all, as follower numbers already show a decrease since the end of the promotion.

Sunny Co Clothing Follower DecreaseData © InfluencerDB

Fyre Festival

Bahama-based Fyre Festival is an event which was supposed to take place this year for the first time and was co-organized by rapper Ja Rule. Naturally, the festival was heavily promoted by influencers as Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin. The promo video looked like a dream come true for everyone looking for a more luxurious version of Coachella. Tickets cost up to $12,000 accordingly. 

Unfortunately, the organizers did not seem to have any experience in planning an event of this size. Festival visitors had a hard time getting to the island and when they arrived, they found ordinary tents and a lunchbox filled with toast and cheese instead of the promised luxurious accommodation and exquisite cuisine. 

 

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Without running water on the island and hardly any food supplies, visitors were pretty much left on their own. Visitors that wanted to leave the island had to wait for hours at the completely crowded airport. 

The organizers started to notice the chaos on the island and tried to get a grip on the situation.

Fyre Festival Statement

But despite the efforts, the event was finally canceled “due to circumstances beyond our control”, as the organizers stated.

In an effort to decrease the anger of the festival visitors, the organizers now published a statement explaining the situation and admitting that both the circumstances on the island as well as poor planning led to the events. Instead of doing the planning and selling tickets afterwards, the organizers did it the other way around, as an anonymous event organizer puts it: “It seems like you should know if there’s running water before you put on a festival on your site.”

A lot of observers did not only put the blame on Ja Rule and his co-organizer, but also accused the influencers which promoted the festival of being partly responsible for the situation. Instead of looking behind the scenes of the festival’s organization, Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid simply took the money and promoted an event which was hardly organized at all when they started advertising it.

They, thus, deceived their followers by making them believe the festival was a luxurious event and worth the visitors’ money. This, once again, raises the question if celebrity influencers identify themselves with the events and products they promote or if they just cooperate with every brand or company that complies with their requirements regarding payment. 

Nonetheless, it seems unlikely that the influencers will feel any consequences emerging from this situation (or will they?). The organizers, on the other hand, now face lawsuits into the millions