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HomeCase StudiesWhy Evian took a chance with a risqué influencer

Why Evian took a chance with a risqué influencer

Fyre Festival event producer Andy King.
Fyre Festival event producer Andy King.

In the Netflix documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, launched in January 2019Fyre Festival event producer Andy King says he nearly performed oral sex in exchange for a shipment of Evian. Based on his comments, Evian brought King on one year later to be the face of a new campaign.

Campaign strategy

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a Netflix documentary about the fraudulent Fyre Festival, was released on January 18, 2019.

The film, which covers the lead up to and disintegration of the botched music festival, features a scene in which King memorably recalls nearly performing oral sex on a Bahamian customs agent in exchange for a shipment of Evian water.

In the film, King says he was willing to “take one big thing for the team.”

Alessandra Simkin, a senior manager of external communications at Evian parent Danone North America, explained that she was concerned for King upon watching the documentary.

“I was worried about whether he would feel embarrassed and how he would handle it,” she said.

Once she realized from King’s social media activity that he was having fun with the viral moment, “we realized this was a space where we could have fun, too,” said Simkin.

The company reached out to see if it could build a relationship with him. Initially, it was difficult to track him down.

“We sent a case of water with a sweet note, but we might have sent it to the wrong address,” Simkin said. Eventually, however, the company located him through social media.

After bringing Praytell onboard as its AOR in October 2019, Evian U.S. felt like more could be done to seize on the viral moment created by the Netflix film.

Simkin explained that Evian’s rarified French roots and partnerships in the fashion industry are an important component of its brand identity. But, with this campaign, the brand wants to “make sure people who are outside of the spaces where we typically play know about us and think we are a fun brand that they can engage with,” she said.

PR tactics

Evian worried that the momentum from the Fyre documentary had fizzled until Simkin caught a CNN roundup about the most impactful moments from 2019 on New Year’s Eve, which included a reference to it.

“I was like, ‘Wait, this is still a thing,’” she said.

Simkin emailed her team immediately, with the idea that if they scrambled, they could launch a campaign to coincide with the documentary’s one-year anniversary.

The idea, which Praytell helped refine, was to create a special bottle “with a slogan that spoke to [King’s] personality,” Simkin said. “We just called him. He was open to our call because we had spent time building a relationship with him.”

Together, they settled on a bottle with the phrase “So good, you’d do anything for it.”

The campaign included an Instagram post featuring King and the bottle and a call to action, in which all commentators would be eligible to win one of 10 bottles.

Praytell reached out to People with the exclusive a couple of days before the campaign was slated to go live. The story published the day of launch, which elevated the post without the company having to put any paid support behind it.

Once the campaign was live, Praytell pitched a wide range of outlets, including relevant information and a link to assets, including images of both the bottle and King.

Results of the campaign

The campaign generated 63 earned articles, including write-ups in People, Papermag, Complex and Billboard.

King’s original branded post received 21,804 likes, while Evian’s repost was liked and commented on 6,872 and 379 times, respectively. This was without any paid support.

A total of 5,215 people entered the giveaway by commenting on King’s Instagram post.

For Simkin, the campaign’s success was a good reminder that the conversations about a brand don’t always match its historical reputation.

“Sometimes the amazing cultural things that land in your lap aren’t going to necessarily fit with your brand manifesto or brand story,” she said. “But that gives you the ability to reach people you might not have otherwise been able to reach.”

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