When it comes to partnerships and collaborations, Kendall Jenner says she does “as much research as I can” before getting on board — however, even she couldn’t predict the disaster that was Fyre Festival.
During a recent interview with The New York Times, Jenner, 23, opened up about her involvement, explaining “You get reached out to by people to, whether it be to promote or help or whatever, and you never know how these things are going to turn out.”
“Sometimes it’s a risk,” Jenner told the newspaper. The Keeping Up with the Kardashian star was among the numerous models, including Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski, who promoted Fyre Festival on Instagram.
“I definitely do as much research as I can, but sometimes there isn’t much research you can do because it’s a starting brand and you kind of have to have faith in it and hope it will work out the way people say it will,” Jenner told The New York Times.
“You never really know what’s going to happen.”
Jenner’s comments come a few months after both Hulu and Netflix released documentaries about the rise and fall of the festival.
Both docs outline how Fyre founder Billy McFarland — who sat down for an interview for Hulu’s Fyre Fraud — started out with a different venture: Magnises, a black credit card that gave millennial users exclusive access to events, parties and networking opportunities. McFarland, 28, made false claims about the brand’s user profile, and when the company fell on hard financial times, as the Hulu documentary shows, he resorted to re-selling pricy tickets he didn’t have (e.g. Hamilton tickets and passes to Beyoncé and JAY-Z’s tour).
Fyre Media began with the Fyre app, where users could go to book talent. For example, if a user wanted Coldplay to play at their birthday party, they would go on the app, let Coldplay know how much they could offer for the gig and Coldplay would then decide whether to take the job.
McFarland saw a need for the app when he had a difficult time trying to book Ja Rule for a Magnises party. The rapper loved the idea for the Fyre app and came aboard as a celebrity partner, though he never had an official title within the company.
The idea for Fyre Fest subsequently came about as a way to promote the app.
The crux of Fyre’s marketing campaign centered around having models and social media influencers create buzz about the festival, beginning with all of the celebrities and influencers posting a plain orange tile at the same time. Then the models and influencers shared the promotional video they made in the Bahamas on their feeds, along with behind-the-scenes shots and clips.
While Jenner wasn’t featured in the Bahamas promo video, McFarland hired her to announce the lineup on Instagram.
“By some accounts, she gets paid $250,000 per post,” former Jerry Media employee Oren Acks, who was responsible for the social media promotion of the festival, says in Fyre Fraud. “The point of Kendall’s post was to announce that G.O.O.D. Music was involved with the festival. But there was this huge meltdown on the Fyre side.”
After a lot of back and forth, Jenner did post about Fyre Festival, and from there, Acks claims other influencers began “begging” to go too.
It all fell apart when McFarland claimed to have purchased a Bahamian island, Norman’s Cay, formerly owned by Colombia drug lord Pablo Escobar.
While neither documentary solidifies the parameters of this deal (which Fyre employees didn’t even seem to understand), Netflix claims that one of the conditions was that Escobar’s name could not be used in the marketing of the event.
When it appeared in the initial promo video, the Fyre crew was kicked off and left scrounging for a location two months before the festival was supposed to take place.
Chaos then ensued when McFarland and his team had to set up the festival next on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma.
The new destination was not a private island as promised, but to make it look like one, promo photos cropped the area where Fyre Festival would take place. In fact, the intended location didn’t even have a beach within walking distance.
When guests arrived they found no luxurious housing, no gourmet meals and no musical acts. Outraged attendees shared their disappointment on social media, bringing national attention to the failed festival.
In October 2018 McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison.
In January, it was reported that the models and influencers involved, including Jenner, could potentially face subpoenas as investigators try to determine how McFarland spent millions of investor funds.
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