As any Burning Man regular knows, those who violate the festival's sacred ten principles face serious consequences.
The folks at Krug Champagne recently learned that lesson the hard way.
The bubbly company staged an elaborate champagne dinner on the playa last summer, inviting and paying "society bloggers" to cover the event. It worked: The stunt was covered by Notes on a Party and Taryn Cox The Wife, and was featured in (and since removed from) Town & Country and W magazines.
Until Burning Man organizers caught wind of Krug's actions and the online Burner community unleashed its wrath.
Not only did the beverage brand violate Burning Man's strict decommodification rule by using the festival to promote a commercial product and failing to clear the sponsored journalists through the strict media committee, but the dinner crew left behind a big, fat mess. And anyone who's ever come within a thousand miles of the playa knows that visitors must leave behind no trace of their presence.
Loyal Burners took to the Internet to voice their frustrations, denouncing Krug as "empty corporate nut sacs" and telling the company to "f*ck off and die" on its Facebook page.
"Can't we go anywhere without being bombarded by ads?" Burning Man alum Cory Shaw told The Huffington Post. "Seriously, is no place safe?"
Authorities also refused to let the deed go unpunished. "Some people just don't get it," Burning Man blogger Evil Pippi wrote on the festival's website. 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."
Pippi continued by urging the community to boycott Krug's product. "Burners, remember this brand," she wrote, "and perhaps you'll want to weigh this as you choose your next bottle of champagne."
Or as Laughing Squid noted, Krug has done more damage than promotion. At the very least, the company has set a precedent for how future brands will behave as the festival continues to experience exponential growth in its popularity.
Check out Bret Bernhoft's detailed case study of the debacle here, and take a look at some of our images from past burns in the slideshow below: