Fyre Festival Organizers Hit With Sixth Lawsuit; PR, Marketing Companies Named Co-Defendants
The suit alleges the PR campaign represented a "reckless disregard for reality."
As much as the ill-fated Bahamian Fyre Festival jumped way beyond the proverbial shark in how badly and extensively it crashed and burned before takeoff on April 28, the legal payback since then may similarly be getting out of hand quickly: The ill-fated luxury destination event has just been hit with its sixth known lawsuit, according to a Rolling Stone report.
This latest class-action suit arrives courtesy of North Carolina couple Kenneth and Emily Reel, who are seeking $5 million from Fyre organizers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland as well as the festival's public relations agency 42West LLC and advertising company Matte Projects, LLC.
The latter two are seemingly a new wrinkle to the pile-up of litigation. In the court documents, attorneys for the Reels argued that the PR and marketing companies "did not take any steps, let alone reasonable steps, to ensure that their promotional materials and marketing campaigns were accurate" and that they "did nothing to ensure that what they were marketing, and in turn what people were relying upon in purchasing tickets, was or even could be true."
The suit was filed in Miami because it was the "hub" where "all festival-goers were required to take a flight from Miami to the Bahamas and because Fyre Festival tickets listed the location of the event at a Florida address," the lawsuit stated.
According to the filing, the Reels had been vacationing in the Bahamas' Exumas for the past six years. When an ad popped up on their Facebook feed, likely from one of the event's many "influencers" (the suit cited the "Fyre Starters" and named Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Baldwin) hired to market the event, they signed up, booking "the two bed 'duo' with a VIP upgrade for $4,599.84" and deposited "$600.00 spending money onto an account maintained by the defendants" for the cashless event.
After repeatedly inquiring into what seemed to be Fyre's shifting logistical sands, one of the plaintiffs, Kenneth Reel, flew to Miami, where upon landing, "the event was shut down."
This suit specifically goes after the PR defendants saying they "knew or should have known that their advertisements and promotions of Fyre Festival were false and likely to mislead consumers. The campaign described above that they set in motion was, at bottom, a reckless disregard for reality and at worse, a blatant falsity." It also noted that "within a few hours after the actual festival began, the PR Defendants and those same Fyre Starters who scammed their followers into buying tickets, quickly started deleting their promotional posts."
42West, which represents such high-profile clients as Rihanna, Lady Gaga and The Weeknd, was acquired in late March by Dolphin Digital. The firm's other high-profile music clients include John Legend, Pharrell, Camila Cabello, Shakira and Calvin Harris.
42West grew out of The Dart Group, which Leslee Dart launched in 2004. Amanda Lundberg joined Dart a few months later, and in 2006, Allan Mayer joined the partnership and the company was rechristened 42West. On the film/TV side, the firm's PR roster includes Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Woody Allen and Tom Cruise.
Billboard reached out for comment from 42West, but did not hear back at press time.