The company behind last week’s doomed Fyre Festival sold the event to investors as “a highly immersive experience” that would “cement itself as the cultural event of the decade,” according to an undated presentation leaked to BuzzFeed News.
The festival, the company said, “leverages our global access to talent and our understanding of the millennial demographic.” It said it had $3 million in committed sponsorship and was “currently in discussion with several large categories sponsors in beverage alcohol, clothing, streaming content that will be secured by the end of 2016.”
An employee at the so far unlaunched Fyre app confirmed the document's authenticity to BuzzFeed News, estimating it to have circulated among investors last summer. It was first reported by Vanity Fair. Read the full document here. The portion about the festival begins on page 32.
Initially, the festival was meant to promote the app, designed as a platform for musicians, models, and other "influencers" to handle bookings, the employee told BuzzFeed News. Lately, company leaders had been preoccupied with the festival, and app developers had hoped to regain their attention following the event.
Now, the debacle surrounding the festival has made it unlikely the app will ever be released publicly, the employee said.
"They did staff just as wrong as the festival-goers," the employee said.
What everyone knows now is the festival — which was massively hyped by Instagram influencers like Kendall Jenner and promised luxurious accommodations, food, and activities on a private island in the Bahamas — was a disaster that played out on Twitter and Reddit.
Flights were cramped and delayed, the accommodations were calamity relief tents that were barely set up in time, the food was cheese on sliced bread, and there was little to no staff — attendees who paid up to $12,000 for tickets said they felt unsafe and the lead act, Blink 182, pulled out. It was canceled halfway through it’s first day, and on Monday organizers including Ja Rule are now being sued for $100 million in federal court.
Attendees compared it to Lord of the Flies and Hunger Games.
Norman’s Cay, the island in the Exumas that was supposed to hold the festival, was sold this way: “Its connection to Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder of the Medellin Cartel have recently been made relevant to the millennial consumer today most through recent Hollywood program and film's plot lines (including Narcos and Blow),” according to the presentation.
“We will leverage the history of the island and intrigue to create the cultural experience of the decade,” the presentation added.
The plans also showed how much “influencers” factored into the marketing scheme. “Key influencer marketing” was one of the four “key drivers of ticket sales” — the festival’s website featured a video Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, and Bella Hadid. Jenner also hyped the event on social media, then took the posts down and complaints took over social media.
Influencers — called “Fyre starters” got a free ticket and had to sell six additional tickets through a private URL. One of those six people would get a “clue” to a treasure hunt — unlike the general paying public — for items like “luxury jewelry and watches from brand partners.”
The company also promised the event scene would be ready to accommodate the thousands of attendees — though many people said that wasn’t the case. Concierge desks were deserted and luggage was left out in the rain, according to some reports.
“We will utilize a prime existing event site on Norman's Cay to host the first annual Fyre Festival, which provides turnkey production and logistics solutions to temporarily house and host the attendees.”
And they were already planning for next year’s event: “In parallel, we will be securing the private island immediately north of Norman's Cay, currently named Saddle Back Cay to prepare for Fyre Festival 2018 to elevate the experience even further for the second and subsequent years' festivals.”
They also promised — in addition to musical acts — “we will curate the best in comedy and thought leaders (i.e. fortune 500 CEOs, noted scholars, thought leaders, and influencers).”
Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Claudia Koerner at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.