January 21, 2016
Burning Man and its Intellectual Property
Festival Concierge Services is a company that Burning Man has been fighting with for a couple of years over its use of Burning Man trademarks. "We believe strongly that paying upfront for a prescribed, curated experience that doesn't require individual effort misses the mark and erodes Burning Man culture, and it’s absolutely not okay to sell people 'the Burning Man experience' as a vacation package." It's okay for people to pay money upfront for services (or actual material objects) at Burning Man. Almost every camp pools money and shares resources to some degree. The flight I got to ride in 2014, I paid for well in advance. What Burning Man doesn't like is insular, non-involved camps. Maybe there are such camps made up of lower income people, but who knows? How would you find them? But the insular, non-involved camps set up by rich people are not so hard to find. When you see a dozen identical quarter-million dollar RVs all lined up neatly together, you sort of have a clue.
But it's cleaner and neater to go after intellectual property theft, so that's what they've been doing with FCS which is still using Burning Man's IP. But that's not really what I wanted to write about it. What I want to show you is the FCS "survival kit."
- Backpack hydration kit
- A set of walkie-talkies
- Two pair of goggles
- Six "headwear scarf wraps" (looks like, but is not a bandana)
- Dust mask
- Steel mug
- Ten (10!) Spiral notebooks
- Three bottles of hand sanitizer
- Wingman multi-tool (now we're talkin')
- A 24-pack of AA batteries
- A dozen Sharpies!
- A little first aid kit
- Eye lubricant
- Aspirin (are they expecting their customers to have heart problems? why not acetaminophen or ibuprofen?)
- Two bottles of nasal spray
- Three lip moisturizers
- 800 baby wipes
- Two spray bottles of sunblock
- 55 yards of "duck" tape
- Forty ear plugs
- [I think it's assumed that food, water, alcohol, and costumery will be provided by the luxury camp the customer buys into]
They will you sell you that whole survival pack for $500! And they openly state that includes a 30% markup for their "services." Someone could easily set up a competing service simply by going to the Reno Walmart, buying all the equivalent items and then selling the bundle to rich people for some price lower than $500. You'd have to promote it so that the rich people understand that a visit to Walmart at the height of Burning Man shopping insanity is a part of the whole culture of Burning Man. Don't actually use the word "slumming," but communicate that somehow. You may also need to point out that Walmart carries a good selection of organic fruits and veggies to avoid scaring away the shy ones.
Showing that you have to commodify before you decommodify
Posted by: burner at Jan 21, 2016 1:13:00 PM