May 182012

According to web reports, in September 2011, Krug Champage, aided by Silkstone NYC, an “Events Agency” owned by Phil Winser and Ben Towill of NYC’s The Fat Radish restaurant, held an environmentally inconsiderate, community deceiving marketing/PR photo shoot at the Burningman festival in the federally protected desert of Black Rock City, Nevada.

Their photo shoot violated the explicit community rules governing the week-long event, which abhors commericialism at the event, as did their leaving the garbaged remains of their photo shoot on the desert floor for random strangers to clean up,  and photographing participants and using those photographs for promotional purposes without the consent or awareness of a number of them (who -according to several only accounts- were falsely told they were attending a “birthday party”). Despite all that, Krug and SilkstoneNYC have not -as far as I know-  expressed remorse for the incident.

So if you dislike companies and people who trash nature and use photos of others for profit without their consent, then you probably want to consider a personal boycott of Krug Champage and, if you live in (or visit) New York City, The Fat Radish restaurant, SilkstoneNYC event marketing and any other enterprise owned or operated by Krug or Silkstone.

SIGN KRUG / SILKSTONE PETITION  – Let’s get 1,000 signatures saying “Don’t use Burningman in ads anymore”.

Below are many of the threads of this story, along with contact information. Feel free to contact those involved and let them know what you think.

PS: I am adding Butcher Shop Creative and Black Star beer, [Below, here]  for filming what looks to me like a viral ad at Burningman, using the playa as a free promotional backdrop. (Image Node, for instance, is in the video, without their consent).

OVERALL CONCLUSION: Burningman is increasingly becoming a free backdrop for marketers/advertisers to film and photograph in. Volunteer work done for the event is being used by these unscrupulous advertisers and marketers for profit.  BMORG is clearly not doing enough to put an end to this, for instance, by bringing legal action against those who use the event and its participants – without approval or compensation- to advertise their products.

You may want to consider what you personally can do to put an end to this commercializing of the playa: boycott the products and companies that do this, make sure that you’re not being used by a disguised marketing scheme, and/or… Well, make a suggestion in comments.

Original Burningman post – Evil Pippi,
– Comprehensive Story Timeline with Links and Marketing Analysis – Bret Evan,
– Comprehensive reporting on the event – Scott Beale,
Article including suspicious Zoo Camp apology,  (See below “Zoo Camp” section, for why I believe the apology is suspect).

Blog that took down their Krug/Silkstone post when they heard what it really was:
Posts removed by Town and Country (photo) and W Magazine (photo 1, photo 2), after protest by BMORG and burners like you.




CONTACT INFO: SILKSTONE – The NYC events agency who created the Krug marketing/PR event on the playa.

“Oli” -Olivier van Temsche- of Zoo Camp wrote a long response to the original Burningman post above, claiming –against eyewitness accounts (eplaya)– that they cleaned up after themselves and didn’t know it was a marketing/PR event. –There are indications that this is not the whole story.
–  He claims to have been “granted a permit” to put the table and trellis there. This claim is not verified in any way, by him or BMORG.
– He omits that his friend Carl (Heline) is a Krug US marketing boss.
– Oli’s website’s only “Friends” on their blogroll are the Krug marketing agency “SayHmm” and LVMH  (Krug) creative agency “Creasenso“.
– (SayHmm’s Krug client pages)
Burningman post comment with more details on Oli’s marketing credentials.
Oli is CEO of “The Cools,” an upscale lifestyle/trend marketing site.
NOTE: It’s  been claimed online that Zoo Camp is connected with the Uchronia (Belgian Waffle) people, whose art project was also considered by some burners to be a giant paid advertisement. But I’ve lost that comment and can’t find it anymore to investigate.

ONLY BLOGGER STILL SUPPORTING KRUG AT BURNINGMAN – Is Taryn Cox, who’s still maintaining her  Krug/Silkstone post and photos promoting the event.


Next up is ButcherShop Creative, (SF) who filmed what appears to be a viral ad at Burningman for their client, Black Star Beer. Butchershop: “we needed to appeal to the beer industry and blogger, […] creating video content in the form of The Great American Road Trip…”

That tallies with with the “great american roadtrip” nature of the 5-minute Burningman filmed piece, wherein Black Star is featured in closeup at (:34-:39) and (3:06-3:08), and longshots at (1:49-2:30) and (4:21-4:28) , and is the only brand name to appear unobstructedly in the video. And for a total of about 32 seconds. – That’s 11% of the video, if you’re keeping score at home.

So is this an ad filmed at Burningman? Or a simple coincidence? — And while we’re at it, is there a connection between that and the company’s blog post mentioning interest in scripting viral videos. (Link #4, below).

  • |
  • Conversation about viral video:
  • The video is titled “Amazing Burning Man 2010 Video – shot entirely on iphone 3GS,” and was shot and edited by Butcher Shop’s Trevor Hubbard:
  • The video. (Not sure you want to drive up the numbers by watching it).


“Uchronians” (Really an advertising team?):

Another article:

Krug Controversy on Wikipedia:

Urban Dictionary entry for Krug:

  7 Responses to “How Krug Champage and SilkstoneNYC Allegedly Shamed Themselves, Violated the Environment, and Offended a Community for the Sake of a Marketing/PR Photo Shoot”

  1. […] the petition against Krug here (thanks Burner Moishe). So far 13 people have. Here’s a list of some of the other brands owned by LVMH, for those […]

  2. Wow, Moishe, what a fantastic timeline of events and exposure of details of these NYC marketing types. I would love to have a chat with you about this and some early thoughts on next steps. Can you contact me at

  3. Great compendium of information about this marketing fail.

  4. Boycott KRUG and fire Carl Heline US Krug PR guy!!! Email LVMH to complain 

  5. What Krug did at Burning man is unacceptable. Please sign the petition to boycott Krug and their PR manager Carl Heline:
    Please complain to LVMH: Let’s get to 1,000 names!!!

  6. Wow, there are 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line around the world, and you people are more interested in writing about commercialism and boycotting a luxury band for going to a dance party and taking photos. Really !

  7. 1.4 billion hungry is of greater gravity than a majority of conversations, does that mean we should speak of nothing else until that’s resolved? But if you want to talk in those terms: this conversation is about a few people abusing the trust and efforts of a great number of people, in the service of personal financial gain. I would dare say that it’s similar factors, of greed and disregard for others, that contribute to the number of people living in poverty in the world.

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