Burning Man, Society, Consumerism


Society is adopting burning man principles, but what does this mean for us within commerce? The principles of burning man and decommodication are established in the pursuit of experiences over brands. At a distant point in time, brands did not exist. Villagers would walk around marketplaces, or placed in the moment of acquiring goods themselves. There has been a huge primal gap in how we observe, experience, and buy products - and we’re finally in the era of recalculating what it means to be a consumer.

Consumerism has been driven by the Coca Cola ad campaigns, usually on a hot summer day with an even hotter girl sipping the ice cold beverage. There was no attention how or why people were consuming, or even more important, the ingredients themselves. How else are you supposed to sell sugar water? It got even worse with cigarettes, basically advertising as the cool thing to do for the youth of tomorrow. The youth of tomorrow seems to be looking for something quite different these days, as ingredients being the first thing a modern consumer looks for. Why is this? A life of being lied to through improper and unethical branding, or is this serving as a call to action for ourselves in a world where we lack control over what we truly are consuming. As you wouldn't expect your friend to lie to you, neither should the products you buy - and people have consumer PTSD.

Not sure where to turn, we need voices that embody the brands that transcend what the Marlboro and Coco Cola age taught us so long ago. Maybe this is why Burning Man split away from commodication, stripping brands from its very existence. If a brand is stripped of its name, what is the brand? Can a brand be nameless and still convey a defining essence? More and more companies are trying to get onto the Playa but disguised in a mask that covers corporate America from their image. And then a big question is tossed, do people even give a shit? Do i care that some car brand is having an art car, does that increase my chances of resonating with such brand, or resenting? It comes back to what the experience is itself. Experiential marketing can be smoke and mirrors, but people typically smell bullshit from far away.

If brands focused on experience, true fucking experience, maybe the consumers would leave with the intangible quality of the brand that is only defined in the individuals mind. That seed of knowledge is what tomorrow's key component of viral marketing will be, speaking the brand into existence, rather than advertising. Give people experience, and they'll leave with more than you can imagine.