Good and Bad PR: Amazon amazes, Fyre fails
3rd May 2017
Amazon did something cool this week which earned it loads of positive PR coverage in the process. To promote the release of the movie Manchester by the Sea onto Amazon Prime’s streaming service, the retail giant decided to gift every home in the real life Manchester-by-the-Sea area (in Massachusetts, USA) a free one-year subscription.
Amazon Prime costs $99 annually in America, but each house in the area that the movie was set in and named after will get a box containing a gift card to cover the year’s subscription and three packets of Amazon’s Wickedly Prime popcorn to enjoy.
As PR stories go, giveaways normally struggle to get pick up, but one of this scale certainly got the media’s attention; and with the Manchester by the Sea movie having been made by Amazon Studios and having won numerous awards, it’s one that was worth celebrating.
The story was picked up far and wide, reminding people that Amazon Prime isn’t just about getting access to next-day delivery; but also the streaming service and other benefits too. It’s also a good way to promote Amazon Studios, with many people stull unaware that Amazon is more than just a website from which you can stuff; in actual fact, it also has its very own TV and film production arm.
I’ve seen coverage for this on Mashable, CNET, BBC, Digital Spy and way too many others to list here, which I think can only be a sign that this little marketing push was a huge success.
The inaugural ‘Fyre Festival’ in the Bahamas, described as the “Coachella for the super rich” (a posh festival for rich kids) ended in total disaster last week, leading to an influx of negative press and a big headache for the organisers.
Ticket holders were promised “the culture experience of the decade” in Exuma and some paid tens of thousands of pounds for a place at what was supposed to be an ultra-exclusive weekend music festival. Starting prices for general admission packages were an eye-watering $1,200, but that probably seemed an absolute steal compared to the five-figure sums required for a VIP package.
When guests arrived, the experience was far from the paradise they were expecting and total chaos ensued. Enticed by adverts that featured supermodels like Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski and the promise of super-yachts, luxury villas and gourmet cuisine, they were instead faced with what they described as a half-finished campsite with only bread, meat and salad to eat served in styrofoam boxes. Oh and their baggage arrived in a shipping container. People were left stranded without basic provisions. Classy.
Musicians such as Major Lazar, Disclosure, Migos and Blink 182 were due to perform at the festival, which was organised by rapper Ja Rule and an entrepreneur named Billy McFarland who is the guy behind Magnises, a social club for “elite” millennials (whatever they are…). Organisers said that the physical infrastructure was not in place in time for the event and denied that it was all a scam.
Now though, a $100-million law suit has been filed against the organisers and I doubt very much that the festival will ever go ahead in the future. A Bahamian government agency even issued a statement apologising to those who had travelled to the country for the event.
Media outlets around the world picked up on the disastrous event, spelling trouble for any future plans to have another bash at getting it right.