How Not To Burn: Commodifying Burning Man

Some people just don’t get it. It is sad and upsetting for Burners when brands ignore our cultural expectations and try to pull marketing stunts on the playa, and worse yet when they pretend it’s not happening.  Due to diligent staffers and volunteers, we usually find and stop these marketing stunts, and protect our community, before the commodifiers make it into the city.

The scene. Photo by Peg Ortner.

But some slip through.  This year, one company tried literally to bottle up the Burning Man experience, and turned it into a product shoot. They amplified their marketing efforts by co-opting some major publications to publish articles with photographs that violate our core principles and media policies.  They knew what they were doing, but they did it anyway.   We are sharing this story in explicit detail in order to keep the community alert to these transgressions, and to deter others who are eyeing our event as a place to launch or promote products or companies.  Let us be clear: this is not the kind of marketing activity that raises brand value. Our culture just won’t tolerate it, and it often backfires. (Burners, remember this brand, and perhaps you’ll want to weigh this as you choose your next bottle of champagne.) (more…)