Burning Man is a weird old-time traveling carnival that hooked up with the 1969 Woodstock rock festival and birthed an LSD-addled child whose middle name is Anarchy. So some marketers apparently assume that the festival operators are totally cool with whatever. Grinder-slinging chain Quiznos has learned, though, that Burning Man will torch your giant marketing scheme like its eponymous avatar if you try to use them to sell your capitalist sandwiches.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that after Quiznos produced a video that "parodies the upcoming movie, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and portrays the characters frolicking and eating Quiznos at Burning Man," Burning Man operators were ready to take them to court, viewing the spot "as theft of Burning Man's intellectual property."
Jim Graham, a spokesman for the festival, told the AP that they will "be coordinating with our legal team to see what action we can take."
Burning Man is, as the AP notes, a "counterculture festival." Companies seeking to rip off the sexy, hallucinatory Burning Man vibe are nothing new. Speaking to the AP, Jim Graham said, "We get a quite a number of requests each year from companies wanting to gift participants with their product or to capture imagery or video of their products at the event, and we turn them all down." But the "counterculture" ethos of Burning Man may not be as intact as the organizers would like to admit: part of the effectiveness of the blistering parody is the fact that the festival has, indeed, become a playground for the rich and famous, a plutocratic rite of passage for those who earned billions off of useless apps rather than the spiritual experience the festival was originally concieved as.
As of Saturday, no one from Quiznos had responded to queries from the media. But there should be a lesson in this—don't go to Burning Man to discern the undercover FBI informants or to figure out who might get arrested next, and don't go for sand-encrusted chicken parms on wheat. Go to Burning Man for the burning, the music, and—oh hell yes—for the skin.
Photos by Oded Balilty/AP Photo