What could Revolve Festival mean for the brand’s influencer relationships?

ICYMI, influencers took to social media over the weekend and compared Revolve Festival to the ill-fated 2017 Fyre Festival. But what does the bad press mean for the clothing brand’s influencer marketing strategy—an engine that, as of 2018, drove almost 70% of its sales?

In case you really Missed it, Revolve Festival is a two-day Coachella-adjacent event for celebrities and influencers that’s gone off without a hitch for years now. It’s an exclusive affair where, according to Joseph Yomtoubian, an influencer who attended this year’s event, you “need to know someone to get invited.” This year, the event—which hospitality company h.wood Group ran—featured a Venmo-sponsored carnival swing ride, performances from Willow Smith and Post Malone, and, of course, a few unhappy influencers.

So what were they upset about? One influencer post basically sums it up: a TikTok from Averie Bishop, which became the most-shared piece of social media influence content in April 2022 mentioning Revolve, according to data from data fromr marketing platform Traackr that was shared with Marketing Brew.

In the video, Bishop complains about in line for two hours for the Revolve-sponsored transmission to the event, as well as pushing and shoving waiting occurring in line. Some never got on the bus to the festival at all. The line “Fyre Festival 2.0” was mentioned in her video, and the event has since made headlines. Revolve has publicly apologized.

Despite the drama, Evy Lyons, CMO at influencer-marketing platform Traackr, told Marketing Brew she doesn’t think Revolve will be impacted long-term. “I don’t think Revolve is going anywhere,” she said.

But she noted other brands should take Revolve’s experience as a warning. “This is a space—influencer marketing, fashion—that changes very quickly. And the opinions of just a few people can really sway the opinions of the masses,” Lyons explained. “You need to make sure that, if you’re going to invite influencers to a special experience, that you can deliver.”

Influencers who had a negative experience with Revolve might be more open to partnering with its competitors, Lyons explained, suggesting that this experience could perhaps provide an opportunity for Revolve’s competition to slide into scorned festival attendees’ DMs offering some TLC.

While some influencers got the invite from Revolve in exchange for posts, others had to actually pay for a ticket just to get in.

“Most of the influencers impacted have less followers than the VIP influencers,” Lyons said. But she added, “Today’s micro-influencers are the future macros, and brands should want to grow their relationships with them over the long term. I think Revolve may lose market share if other brands jump in and start building that brand affinity with these influencers, and [then] those influencers grow their following.”

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But Yomtoubian, who attended Revolve Festival and told us he has 10 million followers across his multiple social media accounts (like @thetinderblog, for instance), doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

He told us he’s never done an influencer deal with Revolve (although he was invited to the festival along with some of his friends by h.wood Group), but that he’d “absolutely” be down to work with the brand after this event .

Yomtoubian already does influencer work with one of Revolve’s competitors, Fashion Nova. “If I went to a Fashion Nova event, and this happened…I’d be like, ‘Okay, no big deal. It happened,’ adding that he doesn’t think influencers would work with competitors Re because of a bad experience with the brand.

“People work with competitors if they’re going to get more money,” he said.

Plus, Yomtoubian didn’t think what happened at Revolve Fest was as bad as the influencers who took to social media to bad-mouth it—and the resulting press around the event—made it out to be. He said he waited around 45 minutes to an hour for a bus, but noted that the heat wasn’t particularly bad and shade was available. “I’m not just saying this—it was a really good event. They had great activations, a lot of fun. It was probably one of the better Coachella events, to be honest.”

But blogger Elise Purdon had another take on why influencers might be frustrated. In BuzzFeed senior culture writer Stephanie McNeal’s newsletter Side Chat, she pointed out that Purdon said, “The real problem is that Revolve has such a power over the industry that people are willing to fight and shove and stand all day in the desert to try and get on a bus to get into this thing where they aren’t even getting paid to create free advertising.”

Additionally, McNeal wrote, Revolve Festival is a very important networking event for influencers, so some of the influencer angst was “likely driven by career anxiety of missing the festival and, thus, a huge opportunity, rather than being sweaty and bored.”

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