By now you’ve heard of Fyre Festival – the Ja Rule-affiliated-and-thus-probably-doomed-from-the-start islandic music festival experience that promised to reinvent the way that humanity perceives of both music and islands. The festival, as we all know by now, never happened. Instead of making good on promises of models, bottles, and Blink-182 for some reason; Fyre Festival primarily served as a giant Bahamian factory producing military-grade schadenfreude and an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine designed to separate millennials from their money.
But how’d we get here? To answer that question, let’s go back to where it all began. That magical place where PDF’d dreams become dollars and cents – the pitch deck.
As the primary author of many, many rEvolution decks (mask off) over the years; I’m uniquely qualified to comment on this. I, like the author of this doomed document, know how hard it can be to come up with synonyms for “event,” “immersive,” or “experience.” I get it. But I’m still gonna tear this thing up. You can read it in it’s entirety here. Below, are some favorites.
Let’s dive in.
Slide #3 – Confidentiality Agreement
This is an important inclusion, especially if there’s any chance your event will be a disaster on a scale that will require a foreign government’s intervention and the help of a United States Embassy. If there’s any chance that your company may strand an employee or prospect on a desert island without water or plumbing and feel the vengeful need to upload private documents to the internet for all to ridicule – make sure you include this slide.
Slide #12 – A Quote
Have you ever been on Tumblr? Millennials love wanderlusty quotes, especially when they’re placed over aspirational imagery. Can’t get enough of ‘em. So this actually works, even if the design is awful. This page is an example of what I like to call “Flowers.” Short for “flowery language” – these slides are injected into the pitch juuuust before the concept as a lil appetizer for what’s to come. So, based on this page alone, what we’re dealing with here is … a treasure map?
Slide #13 – Dramatic Irony
They could not have nailed this one more perfectly but less like they’d hoped. Incredible.
Slide #15 – An Insane Reveal
Here, things start spiraling a bit. We’re in textbook “overpitching” territory now – they’re selling not only five years of music festivals held in undeveloped nations, but selling them as some kind of altruistic form of gentrifying tourism. Also, I’m really unsure of how “land” is converted into “unparalleled experiences”… But, as it turns out, so was Fyre Festival. Best of all is the reveal that this year’s element-based theme was “Water.” Unfortunately we’ll likely never get to find out what they had up their sleeves for the “Air” or “Space” years.
Slide #21 – Enter the Influencers
The “Influencer” page is often a necessary evil in the modern deck. It’s just a fact of marketing life in an era in which humans are seen as distribution channels onto themselves. But it doesn’t have to be this bad. For example. Here, these kind folks are referred to as “Fyre Starters,” “influencers,” “personalities,” “ambassadors,” “representatives,” “tribe,” and “potential brand partners.” PICK TWO. TOPS.
Slide #26 – The Press Page
Everybody goes crazy for a nice collage of monochrome logos and a couple of quotes. No credentials-style deck is complete without ‘em. The logos up top, however, have essentially nothing to do with the words below. The quotes are from outlets called (in counter-clockwise order, from top-left) Grazia Daily, The Debrief, The Debrief (again), EDM Sauce, EDM Sauce (again), EDM Sauce (again, again), and EDM Sauce (seriously, again). Whoops. A simple search turns up the fact that, no, not even post-disaster, Sports Illustrated did not produce even one shred of Fyre Festival-related content.
Slide #29 – How Do Charts Work Again?
Pro-tip: The chart for a 360 methodology should probably not proceed linearly and include both a start point and an end point.
Slide #31 – Seriously?
Slide #33 – The Hard Sell
You gotta do it somehow, and everybody asks the tough question differently. But this is probably not the best way to ask for $25 million. Personally, I’ve never had to ask for $25 million. If I ever did, I would probably at least, I don’t know, hint at some kind of return on investment? Look, $25 million is a lot to ask for at any point in time – but based on the dates of the published articles from the media coverage section, this particular $25 million was being asked for no more than 4.5 months ahead of the doomed festival. And this implies that the money isn’t even for the festival we just spent 33 slides pitching! It’s for an in-development app that the festival itself was intended to promote and fund. I just. I mean. Wow. Fyre Festival forever.
Slides #37 + #38 – The Unemployment Line
Maybe I’m biased, being that rEvolution has experience in producing world-class weekend-long events with intricate hospitality packages and on-water/off-water entertainment (like America’s Cup World Series Chicago), but if you’re pitching investors on producing a world-class event with intricate hospitality offerings and on-water/off-water entertainment… Double check that someone on the team has experience producing events.