Business Ethics Case Study On FYRE Music Festival
Task: You may wish to focus your analysis section on 3-4 of the following points:
- Whether the organiser of Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland, thinks ethics should be the main priority of an organisation.
- Whether the customers think ethics should be the main priority of the organisation.
- Whether the festival’s suppliers (for example the caterers, security staff and artists) would think that ethics should be the main priority.
- Whether legislators think ethics should be the main priority of the organisation
Ethics in business are of paramount importance as ethics are a set of moral rules which governs how businesses operates, how decision making is done and how are people treated in the business(Ciulla, 2020). Business is a separate legal entity but is always answerable to all of its stakeholders which consist of customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers and others. In the absence of business ethics, there is no definition of right or wrong, and the probability of stakeholders being duped of their money, time, recognition, goodwill and other assets is the highest(Ciulla, 2020).
As per the business ethics case study, FYRE Music festival, which was supposed to be the greatest party ever turned out to be the biggest disaster, is the perfect example of unethical decision making. Billy McFarland and famous rapper Ja Rule announced FYRE music festival to as a marketing tactic to promote their soon to be launched FYRE App (An App where customers can directly book the artists). However aspirational the idea was, from the very beginning it was sold on the promises which could not be delivered, and everyone knew this in this clearly, however kept on ignoring it despite all the red flags, and lastly, the inevitable occurred(Greenwood, 2019). Music festivals may it be in Miami, New York or any other place on the planet are planned carefully with much time at hand, that it how companies like Wonderland, Bassett Events are able to carefully execute their events. The purpose of the business ethics case studyanalysis here is to analyze the importance of business ethics and ethical decision making within the context of FYRE music festival (Greenwood, 2019)
Analysis ofbusiness ethics case study on FYRE festival through the lens of Ethical decision making
This section of business ethics case study analysis will discuss how ethics were avoided at every stage of the decision making which led to the fiasco of FYRE festival, due to which the founder Billy McFarland is serving sentence and has dozen of lawsuits under him. Majorly, the fault lies on the shoulders of Billy McFarland, but it was also the people working closely with him who completely snubbed ethics, on the contrary empowered by supporting Billy which led to the disaster. This business ethics case studyanalysis will delve into the understanding of ethics from the point of view of the stakeholders involved in the FYRE Music Festival.
Founder Considering Ethics as the Main Priority
Individualism is a concept in ethics wherein the company is expected to do what is the best for itself and its stakeholders. It is understood that the prime goal of every business is to make profits by conducting business ethically. FYRE music festival was a major disaster from the point of view of individualism. The reason being, first the festival did not happen, none of the artists turned up, customers were not even given 1% of the luxury they were promised, due to which the company spiraled into bankruptcy, hence opposite of profit making. This clearly makes the readers understand one thing, Billy McFarland and Ja Rule by not considering ethics as main priority, and keeping all the stakeholders including customers in darkness despite knowing that the festival would not be able to deliver on the values as promised was the biggest lesson in the history. Had ethics been considered at every step of decision making by its founders and co-founders a lot of it could have been averted and the expectation of the customers could have been managed (Asker, 2019).
From the given business ethics case study, Had Billy and his Partner Ja Rule considered ethics as the main priority, they would have ensured that the dream and the concept they were selling to the customers firstly pass the feasilibty test. There was no site reiki done by the production company, infact there was no professional event production company involved in the very beginning of the event preparation, and Billy and Ja Rule did not have any experiences in conducting a music festival. Had ethics been the priority, before announcing the music festival in the web summit of 2016, they would have conducted proper research on the venue and its other amenities (Asker, 2019). Henceforth a slew of unethical decision making at very step right after the festival announcement led to this major disaster. There were a couple of people who very ethical and were not involved with Billy just for the money, they raised questions on the feasibility, execution and other specific points, but were either shut down by the founders or asked to leave the company. Hence, it can be clearly said in the business ethics case studyanalysis that right from the day FYRE festival was announced, ethics was not even in the Top 100 priority list for Billy, which resulted in the disaster. Provided if ethics could have come into play into Billy’s head even a couple of days before the day of the event, a lot of damage could have been managed (Asker, 2019).
Festival Suppliers considering ethics as the main priority
In this section of business ethics case study we will consider the role of Digital media agency, their role in the festival and their consideration of ethics as priority. The FYRE music festival started with a compelling pitch at the web summit fuelled by a $250,000 Instagram post by Kendell Jenner and ended with a tweet of a cheese sandwich. Social media had a big role to play in making the average American believes that for a couple of days they can go on a vacation and live the life they had only seen in their dreams. It was Jerry Media and his team who designed and launched the biggest influencer marketing campaign and managed the page for FYRE music festival. They were being promised or paid large sum of money for their services that they got so much blinded by money to the extent that ethics completely ran out of their head (Prentice, 2019).
The business ethics case studysignifies that Social media and Jerry media has a big role and responsibility at stake here, not just to create the buzz word, but also to not simply act as robots for the system and transfer their part of ethics on the owners. It all starts from not asking any questions from the clients and trusting them blindly, as the role of social media is not just to create an impact, but also to ensure they do not deceive its audience, and they have a responsibility to act for what is right. Certain acts like not informing the audience when the venue was changed from “Pablo Escobar’s Island” to the “Island of Great Exuma” which looked nothing more than a refugee camp, not posting the pictures of the progress at music festival, putting the comments off when customers started raising question raises a big question on the ethics of the social media agency. As they have a dual role to play here, this is towards the client and also towards the customers. However, they only played their part in satisfying the client by acting dummies, not asking any questions and doing as Billy asked them to do (Prentice, 2019).
This information provided in the business ethics case study raises an alarming question on the ethics of social media agency, all of its employees and clearly depicts that ethics was not their main priority, but money making was. Had, the social media agency played their role and communicated what has been going at the FYRE music festival, a lot of damage could have been managed, but they choose to pick wrong from right, leading to the fiasco (Prentice, 2019).
Influencers considering ethics as the main priority
Influencers played one of the biggest roles in creating a massive buzz around the festival. Billy and the social media agency leveraged the big names in the influencer category such as Kendell Jenner, Bella Hadid and others to design one of the most successful influencer marketing campaign in the history of digital marketing(Pilon, 2019). The campaign was so successful that, it took only a couple of days to sell all the tickets of a music festival about which the customers have very limited information (Place, date and the concept that it was a luxury music festival). Influencers went wrong as they too did not raise any question and kept doing what was asked them to do. As an influencer they have an ethical responsibility towards their followers, as they are influencers because of their followers. Instagram posts without any disclaimer were the biggest mistake all these influencers made, which gave impetus to the followers to trust them leading to buying tickets of a concert which was just a concept. Hence, it can be clearly said in the business ethics case studyanalysis that ethics was not even a priority on their value systems, which has made them face a number of lawsuits (Pilon, 2019).
The festival would not have been hyped if the influencers would have played their part and acted right towards their followers. There complete lack of ethical conduct towards their followers resulted in customers buying up expensive tickets for a concert with no further checks done by them. Had they added disclaimer on their posts or kept the customers updated through their social media post by displaying ethical behavior none of this would have happened, saving everyone from this disaster. This simply goes onto show how ignoring ethics in business can lead to massive disaster (Pilon, 2019).
In the end of the business ethics case study analysis it were the customers who had to go through the trouble, the investor who put in lot of money behind Billy’s idea and even the contract employees who were not paid money for the hundreds of hours they put in to do the best in their own capacity(Buttler-Cecchini, 2019). Had any of the stakeholders including the owners, influencers, digital media agency, and employees acted right on their behalf, a lot of the damage could have been prevented. Billy McFarland is not the only one who is guilty here, however he holds the maximum responsibility, but it is the lack of ethical conduct by other stakeholders which let him going until the D-Day, and the inevitable happened. Thus, the learning herein business ethics case study analysis is that ethics in business making is of significant importance and it is the role of each and every stakeholders to act right, be transparent about the wrong doings in the organization and play their role(Purwanto, et al., 2019).
The recommendations are based on the business ethics case studyanalysis of the stakeholder’s role in the FYRE festival and will provide an insight on how ethics can be promoted in their individual roles.
Billy McFarland and Ja Rule in their hearts knew from the very beginning that they were just selling dreams and concept to the customers, and the idea behind it was to promote the soon to be launched FYRE app. Hence, the recommendation herein business ethics case study analysis is that the owners or the founders have the biggest ethical responsibility towards all the stakeholders. Hence before considering their own individualistic and selfish needs, they have to consider the needs of other stakeholders and always act right on their part, no matter whatever the consequences may be (Hanson, 2019).
Social Media Agency (Jerry Media and Its employees)
Around 2/3rd of the world population is on social media and they spend quite a time scrolling their social media feed. This makes the role of social media agency in particular very significant, as they are the ones who are providing content in the form of education, information and engagement to the users. They are the ones who are creating an impact on the society and the community, hence have a larger role to play here than they expect. Thus, they have to ensure that they do not act in deceptive media practices, not act as robots to the needs of the client by not probing or asking any questions and are true to its very core audience, which are the people consuming content on social media or the followers of the account they have been managing. Had they communicated ethically with the followers of the FYRE account, a lot of customers would have been saved from the trouble they underwent (Marshall, 2019).
The readings of business ethics case studymentions that Kendell Jenner is one of the biggest influencer celebrity on social media with an estimated following of over 132 Million followers, and reportedly she was paid $250,000 for a single post on her Instagram account, which was twice the amount she was being paid as compared to the market rates. She along with other influencer forgot to play her part and responsibility towards her followers by first adding a disclaimer to her post and secondly by not engaging with the founders on the progress of the festival and communicating the same to her followers. Influencers in this digital age have become significantly important to businesses, primarily because the followers or users on social media platforms look up to them, which makes them accountable and responsible for their actions. Hence, these influencers should not post anything on social media with the objective of creative a buzz or influencing their followers before conducting a thorough research on their clients (Gobigwheel, 2019).
Ciulla, J.B., 2020. Business ethics as moral imagination. In The Search for Ethics in Leadership, Business, and Beyond (pp. 121-129). Business ethics case studySpringer, Cham.
Purwanto, M.R., Mukharrom, T., Zhilyakov, D.I., Pamuji, E. and Shankar, K., 2019. Study the importance of business ethics and ethical marketing in digital era. Journal of Critical Reviews, 6(5), pp.150-154.
Greenwood, T.2019. What can digital agencies learn about business ethics from the Fyre Festival?. Retrieved from: https://www.wholegraindigital.com/blog/fyre-festival-agency-ethics/ Asker, S. 2019. Business ethics case analysis. Retrieved from: http://businessethicscases.blogspot.com/2018/04/fyre-media-inc-fyre-festival-2017.html#:~:text=In%20the%20ethical%20theory%20of,stakeholders%20but%20clearly%20failed%20miserably. Prentice, R. 2019. Under Fyre. Retreived from https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/under-fyre
Pilon, R. 2019. Ethics and Social Media: Fyre Festival Fiasco. Retrieved from: https://www.franco.com/ethics-and-social-media-fyre-festival-fiasco/
Butler-Cecchini, A. 2019. The ethics of design: Fyre Festival. Retrived from: https://uxdesign.cc/the-ethics-of-design-fyre-festival-f547846b4923
Hanson, A. 2019. The real cautionary tale of Fyre Festival. Retrieved from: https://www.business2community.com/marketing/the-real-cautionary-tale-of-the-fyre-festival-02166601
Marshall, J. 2019. Recent Ethics Thought on the Fyre festival fiasco: Retrieved from: https://ethicsalarms.com/2019/01/28/recent-ethics-thoughts-on-the-fyre-festival-fiasco/
Gobigwheel. 2019. Fyre Festival and social media marketing ethics.Business ethics case study Retrieved from: https://www.gobigwheel.com/blog/fyre-festival-and-social-media-marketing-ethics
Figure 1: An image of Orange tile marking the launch of Fyre festival posted by over 400 influencers creating a buzz on the social media platforms.
Figure 2: A real image of the food and lodging arrangement at the promised “ Luxury Festival”
Figure 3: A clip from the launched influencer video with a shot from the Pablo Escobar’s Island.
Figure 4: An image of the food provided at the Festival (A 5 star culinary experience was promised to the customers)
Figure 5: Image of the lodging arrangement at the Fyre Festival (Yacht, Built AC tents and villas were promised to the customers)
Figure 6: Instagram Post from Bella Hadid without any disclaimer.
Figure 7: Post from Kendell Jenner without any disclaimer