This weekend, social media awash with stories from Fyre Festival. The event was marketed as a luxury music festival in the Bahamas for the wealthy, but descended into chaos after attendees arrived to find the “cultural moment” was taking place amidst muddy fields and piles of rubbish, with no basic amenities.
Now, a leaked pitch deck has revealed that hundreds of online personalities were recruited to advertise the event on social media without disclosing that they were part of a marketing campaign, in return for luxury accommodations and other perks at the festival.
According to Vanity Fair, 400 influences with large social media followings were brought onboard to publish promotional videos and posts for the event, with very few of the influencers, who included Kendall Jenner, Nick Bateman, Emily Ratajkowski and Elliot Tebele, mentioning in their posts that these were paid promotions.
In exchange for this social media blitz, which reportedly generated 300m social impressions within 48 hours, the influencers were offered free flights, accommodations and tickets to the event, which ranged in price from $1,500 to $12,500 (£1,160 to £9,670). Many of the posts promoting the event have since been deleted by the same celebrities who helped convince others to attend.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that social media influencers include in their posts if they are being paid for promoting items or events, and has repeatedly warned celebrities that they have to disclose paid sponsorships. 90 influencers and marketers on Instagram were recently sent letters by the FTC reminding them of this fact after a review of posts by celebrities, athletes and others found many were failing to obey the law.
Ja Rule, rapper and co-founder of Fyre, took to Twitter on Friday night to write that “I’m heartbroken at this moment my partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded [sic]”
Fyre Media are now facing a $100m fraud case brought by attendees of the event, who are claiming that the festival organisers new in advance that the event was “outrageously underequipped and potentially dangerous for anyone in attendance”, and warned A-list guests and performers not to attend the festival prior to it beginning.