If you haven’t heard of the infamous Fyre Festival, here’s what it was in a nutshell: a music festival in the Bahamas that epically failed/never happened — and a textbook example of great (but deceitful) marketing.

If marketers were being honest with themselves after hearing the story of Fyre Festival, there was a strong sense of disgust but also appreciation. After all, marketers are driven by one thing: sales that result from marketing tactics. Every last advertised ticket to Fyre Festival sold out in one day. That’s approximately 5,000 tickets, some valued at more than $4,000. Let that sink in.

Many attributed this success to the use of influencer marketing. Some influencer marketers disagreed, perhaps hoping to distance their craft from the fraud. So what was the secret? If there’s one thing we all can agree on, it’s this:

Fyre Festival nailed its target market and crafted great copy that turned into sales.

It’s one of marketing’s first fundamentals: Know who you’re talking to. For Fyre Festival, the ideal target profile most likely included the following details:

  • Millennial males and females (somewhere between the ages of 23-33)
  • Status-driven
  • Wealthy (either through family lines or self-made)
  • High-class taste in art, food, and entertainment
  • A fear of missing out on “the next big thing”
  • Individualistic
  • Travel lovers
  • Follows popular influencers on Instagram

Even with this relatively brief profile (true persona work is a lot more robust), the real magic for marketers happens when the right message is crafted to drive the target market to action.

Looking at Fyre Festival’s main Instagram account, we can see how the copy for each post was carefully crafted to intrigue, seduce and ultimately convert its audience:

  • “Like all great stories, this one begins with a voyage.” (Speaks to the targets’ love of traveling)
  • “The best in music, cuisine, design, and hospitality on a private island.” (Speaks to the targets’ high-class tastes)
  • “The founding class of a new society is here.” (Speaks to the targets’ desire to be a part of the next big thing)
  • “Do less. Do more. Do you. Be bold. Be free. Be you.” (Speaks to the targets’ individualism)

We can certainly keep going (the Fyre Festival Instagram page has 114 posts) — but the point is pretty clear: Copy that speaks to what your target audience wants (either overtly or deep down) makes an impact.

It’s a shame that Fyre Festival was a massive fraud, but it will continue to serve as a cautionary tale — and perhaps a reminder to all marketers with integrity that our words matter, and at the end of the day, we should be able to act on them.