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Case Study: how Shutterstock went globally Fyral with $2000


Case Study: how Shutterstock went globally Fyral with $2000


To launch its newest brand platform, ‘It’s not stock, it’s Shutterstock’, the content company took hold of a global discussion around the worst failure in festival history, and turned it into a fire-starting success. Here’s how.

This article originally appeared in The Nurture IssueMarketing‘s current print issue.

Campaign: Fyrestock

Brand: Shutterstock


Shutterstock is a leading global technology company offering high-quality content, tools and services through its creative platform. The company provides creative professionals and businesses with high-quality images, video and music for any project, while also improving their workflow through innovative content creation and editing tools, all in one platform.

In January 2019, Shutterstock launched ‘It’s not stock, it’s Shutterstock’, the company’s first global ad campaign in six years. The primary goal of the campaign was to challenge the perception of stock imagery and show, rather than tell customers how the content can be used to develop eye-catching campaigns with high production value that’s also cost effective. Following the launch, we discovered an opportunity to extend the campaign off the back of the Fyre Festival documentaries.

We quickly created the ‘Fyrestock’ video to show how one simple creative idea made entirely from Shutterstock footage and music can be created quickly, with a small budget and have a lasting impact.


With great content right at our fingertips, our communications, social and creative teams reacted immediately to the buzz that followed the release of the Fyre Festival documentaries on Netflix (Fyre) and Hulu (Fyre Fraud). Our goal was to grab the marketing, creative and design community’s attention with a compelling showcase of Shutterstock footage and music, drawing people in with an engaging story and creating something that would ultimately change their perception of stock.

Image credit — Aila Images:Shutterstock Video

The target audience for this campaign was Shutterstock’s key customer segment who make up the marketing, creative and design community. The main challenge was turning the concept around quickly. As part of the brief, we wanted to communicate two things: first, how cost effective it is to create a high-quality promotional video with Shutterstock footage and music and secondly, how convenient it is using entirely Shutterstock footage and music to make something engaging with high production value.

The creative concept was certainly different to our past campaigns because it was more ‘show than tell’, and we wanted to illustrate that we’re just like any of our customers — we use our own assets and tools to tell our stories. Success was also measured a little differently. We wanted to emphasise that creating high-quality video content does not need to cost a fortune and that you can create viral content while working with a limited budget. 


In a world where creativity has become mission-critical for businesses of all sizes, we wanted this video to gain notoriety from the ground up. With a limited budget and a desire to create something that could go viral among our core audience, we knew that attaching our next idea to a cultural moment would help us achieve maximum buzz. Before we knew it, the perfect opportunity presented itself. The creators of Fyre Festival blew their budget on a promo video with models, yachts, and swimming pigs. It was the perfect opportunity for us to insert Shutterstock into the cultural conversation in a fun and lighthearted way, while showcasing the endless possibilities of stock footage and music.

image credit Shutterstock

The video we produced emulated the video that was used to promote the real Fyre Festival. We made our video in 24 hours and entirely out of stock footage – and from the office. The $2000 in stock footage we used to create the parody highlighted the stark budget comparison to the original Fyre Festival promo video. 

We could have run a commercial on TV that said ‘you can make amazing media from our assets very quickly and at a fantastic price’ but in this particular situation, a piece of social content felt like the best tool to get the job done. We felt that the strength of the video and the timely alignment with the conversation of the moment meant that we could build engagement organically. 

We wanted to reach the marketing, creative and design community first, because they’re the ones using stock content and we thought this would be a great way to show them that you can truly create anything you want from the millions of Shutterstock video clips, and thousands of music tracks in our PremiumBeat collection – and that it can be cost-effective to do so.


We launched the video across all Shutterstock social media channels on Tuesday, 29 January, sharing it with our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn followers.

Once the video was live, we quickly reached out to key media outlets to make them aware of the content in order to reach our target audience of marketing and creative professionals and boost visibility and engagement for the video. Our outreach focused on media, advertising and marketing press in Australia, the US, UK, Germany and Brazil. 

We continued outreach the following morning and as both of these efforts kicked in, and the video had taken on a life of its own across the web, we expanded the promotion with paid media. Without going over a $15,000 budget, we were able to put some money behind it, to hyper-target our creative audience who were sharing it across their own social channels.


Our final budget included slightly more than $2000 in footage and $15,000 in paid social media.

There is no formula to making something go viral, but this video exceeded all our expectations and reached a much broader audience. The satirical tone and swift timing resonated with audiences worldwide and was the perfect combination for social media success. Another unexpected outcome of the video was being included in stories and comments around Super Bowl commercials, which coincidentally was happening at the same time. While we didn’t spend a single advertising dollar with the Super Bowl, we still found comments like ‘Shutterstock wins the Superbowl’ all over the internet. 

Our video definitely caught fyre, resulting in over two million views in the first week, plus more than 100 pieces of global top-tier media coverage. Best of all? Nobody went to jail.

Further Reading:

Images courtesy of Shutterstock


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