“But it seemed like such a good idea.”
That’s how most public relations catastrophes begin—seemingly good ideas gone awry. It’s the same line of thinking that recently led Pepsi, and United Airlines, down the path to PR disaster. Those massive crises took place in the same week.
This week? It’s Ja Rule and his brainchild, Fyre Festival.
Ja Rule, who dominated late 90’s and early-2000’s radio with his pop-friendly hip-hop, is most recently known for having his career virtually dismantled by an ill-advised conflict with Eminem and a stint in prison.
Ja Rule’s inauspicious return to the limelight was the aforementioned Fyre Festival, a two-weekend music festival in the Bahamas, which promised to be an extremely high-end affair. Replete with beachside villas, all-inclusive meal and drink packages, and all-around luxury accommodations as opposed to the general “roughing it” of traditional music festivals; instead, festivalgoers found themselves in hell on earth.
For the outlandish price that ranged from $4,000 – $250,000, attendees expecting to glam it up in the Bahamas were greeted with ramshackle tents, cheese sandwiches, and a dart-board’s layout of restroom accommodations. The festival grounds were reportedly teeming with trash and roving packs of feral dogs.
So much for living it up.
The festival was promptly canceled amid all of the chaos. Making matters worse, Miami International Airport began canceling flights to the small island of Exumas due to fears of overcrowding, stranding those unfortunate souls who had already landed. Condemned to squalor, lacking food, water, and shelter, attendees took to social media for help.
It was like Castaway for the uber-rich.
Ja Rule and festival organizers have promised full refunds in light of the events—those refund requests were written in pen on computer paper. He’s also indicated that Fyre Festival would be back next year; it will not. There’s no recovering from this one.
What a year so far for public relations disasters.