Commentary

Fyre Festival Failed To Disclose Deals With Social Media Influencers

Even pirates know better. As any old swashbuckler can tell you, if you’re going to bring thousands of people to a remote island (unless you’re planning on executing them immediately) you probably need to give them some food, water and shelter too. It’s basic, me wee millennial maties.

But it turns out that’s not the only thing the “organizers” of the debacle known as the Fyre Festival forgot.

In the lead-up to this weekend’s disastrous flop, when hapless attendees found themselves stranded on the Bahaman island of Grand Exuma with emergency tents and cafeteria cheese for sustenance, rather than luxury cabanas and celebrity chef-crafted eats as advertised, the festival promoters also struck deals with hundreds of social media “influencers” to advertise the event – but many of these individuals failed to disclose that they were receiving compensation for drumming up interest online.

That’s according to Vanity Fair, which got a hold of the leaked pitch deck for the Fyre Festival’s marketing campaign and publicized its hilarious contents as more grist for our collective schadenfreude.

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Per the deck, the “Fyre Squad” (that’s the “organizers”) recruited more than 400 social media stars as “Fyre Starters” to promote the event, including big names like Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Nick Bateman, Bella Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin, and offered them freebies including comped flights, rooms and event tickets, with some receiving packages worth up to $12,500.

The pitch deck notes that in the first two days of the promotional campaign, these influencers collectively delivered more than 300 million impressions with their social media followers.

The only catch is that most of them never mentioned that they were receiving the above-mentioned freebies in return for their influencing.

As soon as the festival started to fall apart amid spiraling chaos last Friday, however, most of these influencers moved swiftly to delete their promotional posts, in a belated and fairly half-assed effort to eliminate the digital paper trail and generally separate themselves from an unfolding PR disaster.

The timing is especially bad as the Federal Trade Commission just sent out letters to 90 influencers warning them to abide by the rules, indicating this issue is definitely on its radar.

So you can add a potential investigation by the FTC to the many other woes facing the event’s organizers (angry attendees filed a $100 million lawsuit against them on Friday, alleging fraud). And who knows what other icky and unflattering details the feds will turn up? Avast, ye scurvy seadogs, prepare to be sordid!
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