10 months ago
The fiasco at Fyre Festival in the Bahamas isn’t done making headlines. The music festival, which was billed to high-end party-goers as an opulent getaway in the Caribbean, was nothing short of a catastrophe when hopeful guests arrived on the island last week to find a water shortage, no electricity, and disaster relief tents instead of luxury cabanas.
Now, Vanity Fair has published a leaked Fyre Festival pitch deck, calling it “beyond parody,” and noting that the failure of the festival shouldn’t fall just on the shoulders of its organizers, Ja Rule and Fyre C.E.O. Billy McFarland. It is also the responsibility of the various celebrities and social media “influencers” who marketed the festival to their followers, often without any disclosure they were being compensated to advertise it. Then, when the event imploded, most of them quietly deleted the posts, never issuing an apology to their fans at all.
“One of the biggest deceits of the entire media campaign was that almost all of the 400 influencers who shared the promotional videos and photos never noted they were actually advertising something for someone else, which the Federal Trade Commission requires,” Nick Bilton writes. “This kind of advertising has been going on for years, and while the F.T.C. has threatened to crack down on online celebrities and influencers deceitfully failing to disclose that they are paid to post sponsorships, so far those threats have been completely ignored.”
The list of offending celebrities includes big names like Kendall Jenner, who is fresh off her own major controversy with Pepsi, as well as models Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin, Bella Thorne, and Alessandra Ambrosio. Though some—like model Bella Hadid—issued an explanation and apology to fans, Bilton notes that Jenner and Ratajkowski have not.
“On Monday, the festival organizers were accused by attendees of fraud and were sued for $100 million,” Bilton writes. “It might only be a matter of time before the Fyre Starters are part of a lawsuit, too.”
Take a look at the leaked pitch deck below.