July 23, 2024

Revolve Festival: A Look Into Influencer Marketing Relationships

By Autumn Soucy

Last weekend marked the return of Coachella and with it also the return of Revolve Festival, an invitation-only party that serves as a sort of “pregame” for celebrities and influencers during Coachella weekend hosted by the clothing company Revolve. The event included sponsors from Kendall Jenner’s tequila brand, 818, Spotify, LaCroix, and more. It also featured performances by Post Malone, Jack Harlow, and Willow Smith. Coachella has become an opportunity for brands to be seen in social posts by influencers, and Revolve has capitalized on having their own “Instagramable” event. However, this year’s Revolve festival is getting attention for a lot of the wrong reasons.

Revolve festival was able to attract the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Timothée Chalamet, Halsey, Kendall Jenner, and many others. The bulk of the invitees however are influencers. These influencers quickly took to their platforms in regards to the event being a disaster. Many shared experiences of transportation trouble with the shuttles required to get to the event. Influencers spoke on being stuck in the heat for hours for transportation only to have to physically fight to get onto the actual busses for a space.

A conversation begins with how people reportedly began yelling at security about how important they were in order to gain priority. Joseph Kapsch with LA Mag tweeted about the issues including a security guard saying, “I don’t know who is actually important and who is lying, or if any of them are important.” The word important is presumably understood in the context of follower counts.

Revolve has since issued an apology, but this whole event begs us to question how ‘important’ influencers really are. How do brands understand an influencers importance? Are they valued merely by the engagement they are able to obtain and should be looked at no differently than an ad space? Or, do brands owe them less in terms of expectation than their actual customers because they are being paid? An event going wrong like this may be looked at harsher if it was happening to genuine customers who were paying to be there. In issuing a statement, Revolve may have been more apologetic or inclined to improve their behavior had it been paying customers. Since these people were influencers though, what does Revolve truly owe them? They were going to a free event with free goodies and performances. The festival was compared to Fyre Festival, however, a key difference is that attendees did not give Revolve any money in order to attend.

It is important for a brand like Revolve to still be mindful of the balance between influencers in some sense being an employee of theirs, but also that influencers are free agents with large platforms. The exchange has to be mutually beneficial to work. While influencers may theoretically not be owed anything because they were already being compensated, the influencers themselves as people do not owe a brand positive reviews. In looking at them as employees, brands should expect to maintain a positive relationship. In the same way an employee who is treated badly will speak out, so too will influencers and potentially on a much larger scale. How then should brands navigate those with more ‘importance’ as measured by follower count deserving better treatment? Truthfully, brands should be more worried about those with larger platforms speaking out, but ethically they should be required to treat all influencer partnerships equally. When people criticize these influencers for complaining because it was free, we must recognize where the line is between a paid employee, another brand of sorts, and just a regular person.

For more information about me, check out autumnsoucy.com and my LinkedIn!

2 thoughts on “Revolve Festival: A Look Into Influencer Marketing Relationships

  1. Hi Autumn! This is a great blog post. I think it is very important for Revolve to understand the fine line between paid employees, any other brands, and a regular person as well. It’s almost as if Revolve and the influencers don’t owe each other anything. The influencers got a free event with free goodies, and Revolve got influencers to attend their event. Good Job!

  2. This is a super interesting situation that I had not heard about. While unexpected issues arise all the time, it is crazy to me that Revolve could have such a disaster with an event concerning influencers. Influencers are notorious for calling people out. It part of their job. They speak on topics and give followers a ‘look’ into their lives. I’m sure some influencers were paid by Revolve so they did not say anything, but those who weren’t are free to say anything. Furthermore, I think it is really sad that the amount of ‘followers’ dictates how people are treated, yet that is not an unusual notion recently.

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