How Andy King Embraced Virality and Failure to Create Positive Impact
“If I could go down in history as somebody who made an incredible impact in the world of social media, and who helped make the world a more positive place, I have done all I could.” — Andy King
You’ve probably heard of the logistics and social media fiasco that was spring 2017’s FYRE Festival. If you’ve seen Netflix’s documentary “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” you know what went down at the failed luxury music festival in the Bahamas, founded by (now incarcerated) Billy McFarland.
Events producer Andy King tells the disastrous story from a different perspective. The festival events’ planner-turned viral Internet meme found himself in a difficult, yet humbling position, as he explained to Social Media Week Founder and Executive Director, Toby Daniels in his #SMWNYC interview, “Keeping the Fyre Alive: A Conversation with Andy King.”
King found a way to move his newfound celebrity forward, especially after the Netflix documentary gained worldwide attention, and use it for social (and sustainable) good.
“The events world is very wasteful. I felt like I was the king of waste for many years; forgive the pun,” King, who co-founded his own events company, Inward Point, told a buzzing audience. “I made a conscious decision to change my company to a zero-waste events company as possible. We focus now on social environmental impact, to eliminate plastic from everything we sell and do; hire young workers on our staff; support local produce farmers, etc. People want to know where their food comes from–I think this story is very important today.”
When asked about dealing with his FYRE documentary celebrity, King explained much of the backstory to the delight (and many laughs) of the audience.
“I honestly thought we could do this–try to produce a huge music festival on a small island, with no water or infrastructure, in 6 weeks,” he said. “Probably not the best idea. You look at the whole situation — I had this amazing career of 25 years, and now I am known for one of the biggest failures in pop culture history.”
He went into hiding for a while after the festival fiasco ended, taking on smaller-scale projects. Then last year, King shifted his mindset from “pop culture failure” to dedicated, focused businessman.
“My clients thought I was unworthy after everything that happened at FYRE. But no. I went through murder at FYRE, and in those six weeks in the Bahamas, I learned even more than I ever could in my whole career,” he shared.
King said he felt it his responsibility to use his platform to discuss the issues most important to him — from environmental sustainability to zero-waste production.
Inward Point shifted its business model to completely zero-waste, focusing on both innovation and fun events; from Hollywood A-list parties to open rooftop garden dinners. King also agreed to do the FYRE Netflix documentary, released earlier this year, which rose him to Internet fame. He knew it was his chance to turn a viral story of embarrassment and failure totally around, to build lasting change in both the events industry and beyond.
“Everybody needs to take a break,” said King. “Now, I run a zero-waste business and my job is to drive positive change, and that’s what I keep wanting to do. With this ‘power,’ my job is going to be to inspire people to do the right thing. I wanted to do that in a massive way with social.”
It’s okay to fail
Looking past the media fiasco that was FYRE, King did not let his reputation be soiled, especially after years of hard work. Leveraging his new fame after the documentary, King utilized social media and truly “leaned in” to his influence, blazing his own trail.
“When we think about failure and these huge events and sudden things that happen to us, it’s really about how we respond to it–not the actual failure itself,” said Daniels.
Even in marketing, he added, “we have to take that responsibility [of failing]. You made a decision to lean in and embrace this virality as an opportunity to create real impact.”
Using influence for good
For King, the most important thing is using his company, personal platform, and overall brand to inspire others.
“If I could go down in history as somebody who made an incredible impact in the world of social media, and who helped make the world a more positive place, I have done all I could.”
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