The Fyre Festival—the almost-festival that was anything but fire—became an international punchline last Thursday night when news trickled out from the Bahamas about just how much reality failed to live up to expectations.
Rapper Ja Rule and businessman Billy McFarland pitched a luxury weekend of models, music, and models for the world's young elite. Thanks to budgeting failures and delusions of what it took to put on a festival, the duo are now subjects of multiple class-action lawsuits, seeking up to $100 million in damages.
A big article in Vice with dozens of sources reveals that the festival organizers knew long before yuppies descended on the island that the experience would not be as advertised. Logistical planning for the event didn't even begin until less than two months before the thousands of people were set to arrive, which is not enough time to organize anything, let alone enough time to get the stuff through Bahamian customs.
"If Fyre Festival seemed last-minute, that’s because it was," Vice reports. "McFarland thought of the idea in October 2016 and announced the festival on Instagram a month later, spending millions on models, private jets, and yachts to promote what would be his first ever large-scale event, sources familiar with the planning said."
McFarland blew $250,000 on a single Instagram post from Kendall Jenner, and the less-famous, non-Kardashian "influencers" weren't paid less than $20,000, Vice says.
People who worked with artists and food vendors say that the organizers failed to make payments, while still paying the models. Even the festival's first website was pulled after they failed to pay the company that created it.
One of the class-action lawsuits against the Fyre Festival hits them for their misleading, model-centric strategy. Only one model, Emily Ratajkowski, included on her social media that her promotion was in fact an ad, which is required by the Federal Trade Commission.
"These ‘sponsored posts’ were in direct violation of Federal Trade Commission guidelines on disclosing material connections between advertisers and endorsers," the suit says. "Social Media ‘influencers’ made no attempt to disclose to consumers that they were being compensated for promoting the Fyre Festival. Instead these influencers gave the impression that the guest list was full of the Social Elite and other celebrities."
Theses will be written on the Fyre Festival debacle, saying it's a microcosm for America: obsession with celebrities and "influencers" at the expense of investing in infrastructure leads to disaster.