U-Haul Introduces Burning Man Kit [Updates]

Screenshot 2015-07-28 10.28.34

Burning Man will not allow any trucks with commercial logos, says U-Haul. Luckily, they have come up with a Burning Man kit they can sell you to cover all the decals – including Ford and General Motors logos.

Purchase your kit here, it costs $25 and takes an hour and a half to apply, you will need to remove it after the event also.

Is this yet another rule? An unwritten rule, now being more publicly enforced, complete with extra things to buy? What if you have an El Monte RV? All these questions answered on The Car Starter,a specialty blog, tune in!

From uhaul.com/burningman:

Covering U-Haul® Logos

Per Burning Man rules, trademarks and logos are not permitted at the event. In order to safely cover the logos and markings on a U-Haul truck or trailer, you can purchase a U-Haul decal kit. This covering material will allow you to easily cover all logos for the duration of Burning Man. When the event is over, the decal can come right off without leaving any residue or damage behind. Using any other covering material can damage the truck or trailer and result in additional fees, as well as costly repairs to the truck/trailer.

[Update 7/28/15 12:14pm]

There’s nothing technically in BMOrg’s official rules that force you to do this, it’s more of an “unwritten rule” like DJ Lineups. The way U-Haul present the information, though, makes it sound like this is a requirement of Burning Man, that you won’t even get through the gate if you don’t do it.

U-Haul are using BMOrg’s reputation for setting lots of rules as a tool to make money off Burners. They can charge $25, and point to the Ten Principles. “Pay us for Decommodification“. It’s commercial genius: I predict we will see this revenue stream replicated by many other service providers.

Watch how many Burnier-Than-Thous will now come out to support this and say “yeah! it’s the rules! Everyone must do this!”, thus helping U-Haul sell even more Decommodification Kits™. Great viral marketing.

[Update 7/28/15 5:58pm]

Halcyon thinks this is a way to follow the Principles, not someone selling a Burning Man product which presumably is against the Principles.

Clearly people have been duct taping over their truck logos for years. This is a way to follow the principles and avoid damage/fees. I think this is a great example of corporations working *with* the community.

He has gone further, publicly endorsing U-Haul with a very favorable post over at burningman.com titled Corporate Courting.

He, and some others commenting, feel that charging $25 for a kit to assist with your Decommodification is more helpful than ironic. A kind gesture, rather than something to link U-Haul with Burning Man in commercial sponsorship, transactions, or advertising. Well, the web site ain’t called uhaul.com/tenprinciples

So, let me get this straight.

“Buy this Burning Man kit for $25”: totally fine with the Decommodification Principle.

“download my track for free”: against Decommodification.

In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

[Update 7/28/15 11:25pm]

Stuart Shoen, EVP U-Haul

Stuart Shoen, EVP U-Haul

Stuart Shoen, Executive Vice President at U-Haul and a third generation member of the billionaire family behind it, has left a detailed comment at burningman.com. It seems they tried to work with the Org, but hit a brick wall of stony silence. They persevered and went it alone, coming up with this offering as best they could to fit within Burning Man’s rules (written, unwritten, and “just guidelines”). The objective is reducing damage to their vehicles, not making money or exploiting Burning Man for their marketing. He sounds pretty sincere to me and I commend U-Haul for making this happen despite zero support from BMOrg.

Thanks to the author for your initial assessment. I understand your suspicions, but I would like to assure you that you are reading us correctly in that we are not trying to pander or exploit. We’re just trying to be helpful. The following statement is 100% correct:

“I don’t see this as an attempt to sell you on a U-Haul, but to have a harmonious experience bringing a U-Haul to Burning Man.”

The truth is: misuse of our equipment by Burners or anyone else diminishes our ability to serve our intended customer: the DIY Household Mover. When our trucks are misused, they require added costs to return to service and while getting fixed, they are out of service and unavailable for other customers to use. I assure you, there is no event on the North American continent that has a comparable effect on our equipment. There is nothing like the Burning Man festival as far as impacting large amounts of our trucks in a deleterious or potentially deleterious way. [So much for Leave No Trace! – Ed.]  This content’s purpose is, 100%, to mitigate the damage, not to increase the income related to these rentals. After years of trying various behind-the-curtain tactics (all unsuccessful), we decided to try to simply talk to our customers about it.

That said, a few things:

First off, U-Haul attempted to contact the organizers of Burning Man in an effort to publish this content in a way that they would have preferred. Our attempts to communicate were never answered or even acknowledged. We would have liked some guidance along the way and we never got it. Please accept my apologies for not having better etiquette. This isn’t our turf and this was our best shot. We will take down the term “Barter Supplies” and just call them “supplies”. Obviously, we got that wrong. Happy to change it.

Second, Tanner’s comment represents a great deal of misinformation about the structure, operation and procedures of U-Haul. I won’t dignify or try to talk him out of his opinion about our equipment, but his misstatements of fact are just that, and not relevant to this conversation. For example, Ryder is no longer in this business and hasn’t been for years. Also, I’ll kindly ask everyone not to hit anything on our equipment with a wrench. I wouldn’t do that to your car even if I paid you to borrow it, so please don’t do it to ours.

Now, I’ll try to let everyone down easy here: U-Haul is a for-profit enterprise. It pays a lot of salaries and plenty of good things flow from them. So I won’t apologize for it, and likewise I won’t ask anyone to apologize for embracing the values that the festival embodies. I have no social agenda except to try to help all our customers do what they want to do in a way that doesn’t prevent another customer from doing what they want to do. Maybe you disagree, but I think it’s totally appropriate and within bounds for my team and I to try to talk to our customers about how to use (or how not to use) our equipment.

We’ve been in business for 70 years, and we know where our bread is buttered. Our bills and salaries are paid by the DIY Household Mover, and we’ve earned their business by offering them products, services, and help in a chaotic time (moving) that is worth paying for… and not by conning them on a one-time basis. Our Company’s business model is the “specialization of use and the division of ownership”. Our business is dependent on being part of a community, not fleecing it. We’ve lost customers when we’ve screwed this up; we win customers when we get it right. This, not the expenditure of an advertising budget, is how our business lives and dies. I would also like to categorically state that U-Haul is spending zero advertising dollars behind this communication. The only people that have been sent this message are individuals who have already rented equipment. If this were an ad campaign, this one would fail in epic proportions.

As I said, this content is sent to existing customers according to very specific parameters that have nothing to do with piercings or hair color. We put videos on YouTube for the exact same reason individuals put their cat videos on YouTube: so that people looking for this content might actually find it. This is also the reason that we use the festival’s name instead of referring to it generically. We didn’t see the point of trying to provide information to a very specific group (i.e., individuals considering taking U-Haul equipment to the Burning Man festival) and not mention specifics about that group. And yes, our legal team made sure we only use the name in a legal and permissive way.

Of course, some people are incredibly and incontrovertibly suspicious of anyone in business. I’m not here crusading to change any of that. I’m here to clear up our intentions, and respect all the perspectives out there. All I ask is that you respect ours, which is simply: if you’re not going to use our equipment in its intended use case scenario (DIY Household Moving), then please don’t make it hard for other customers who do. That’s all our content is about.

Thanks for your time.

Stuart Shoen
Executive Vice President, U-Haul International

What do you think, Burners? Is U-Haul being a good corporate citizen, helping Burners to avoid fines and respect Burning Man’s Ten Principles at the same time? Or are they yet another big corporation cashing in on Burning Man?

54 comments on “U-Haul Introduces Burning Man Kit [Updates]

  1. My belief is what U-Haul did is awesome, in despite of charging $25 for a decommodification kit. People are not of the realization that near to all U-Haul places are franchises, the places are not owned by U-Haul, U-Haul solely owns the trucks, and U-Haul owns the reservation computers system which might overbook the trucks. The franchises are of much ability to decide towards whom trucks are available to rent, charge cleaning levies, and much more. U-Haul, in doing this, stated to the franchises that it is most acceptable for their trucks to go to Burning Man, and stated the franchises that would support Burners taking the U-Haul trucks to Burning Man.

    My belief is the issue in regards of the permit for 2015 is more important. The closure order, of which it is not a permit, was published today, perchance in due of a required seven day notification period prior of a closure. The BLM is of the ability to publish a closure order without negotiations, in the manner of when they published the closure order for the Smoke Creek playa, near to the Black Rock playa, in 2012 in due of Burners were stating meet on the other playa for an alternative Burning Man in due of the issues regarding the tickets, and Burning Man, and the BLM, did not desire for that to occur.

    By appearances, it was stated, by the BLM management, to the new Burning Man minister for the BLM, to get the permit done. The important point in regards of their rubbish 20 points, is point 1, the medical. This is solely speculation, but the point he is not of the ability to compromise upon is ambulances must be of the ability to transport Burners to the hospitals in Reno and Sparks, and Burning Man must pay the costs of the ambulances, and of the medics.

    This is the permit stipulations document of 2014. The BRC LLC, dba Burning Man, and the BLM, are, at present, negotiating the permit stipulations document of 2015, and the BLM, in due of they are rubbish bureaucrats, is of the desire to micromanage numerous other plans and documents. The permit, for Burning Man, is a separate document, upon the BLM website, for 2012 to 2016, which states of each year separate negotiations are to occur.

    Again, kudos to Ms Kane in regards of her awesome reporting. The construction of BRC starts when the permit stipulations of 2015 is signed. The first item of construction is the trash fence, in usual, it occurs immediately after the golden spike.

    • This is a most horrible week for festivals. Two people died at the Hard Summer EDM festival in Los Angeles, one person died when a very big tent collapsed at the Prairie Fest in Chicago, 238 people were transported from Lollapalooza to hospitals within Chicago, and two people died from a circus tent collapse at a circus in New Hampshire.

      And, Burning Man does not desire to pay for ambulances to transport Burners to Reno, and Burning Man desires 40 per cent virgins each burn whom are not of the knowledge of where to obtain medical help, whom are the awesome BRC Rangers, what is rebar, or of the ability to construct structures of the ability to survive winds of 70 mile per hour. And, the BLM police do not desire to assist towards medical safety. One of their rubbish 20 points was assisting Burners in this manner halted them from their job of busting hippies for marajuana enforcing laws, and whom desire to treat drug medical issues of the manner of law enforcement, not of the proper manner of treating drug medical issues in the most proper manner of it is solely a medical issue. Newbies, and near newbies, must be of the knowledge of how to obtain medical help in this manner.

      • Excellent points. You might want to repost this in the medical and BLM threads, so it does not get lost here.

        And let me add that, regardless of any positive action or conspiracy by the BOrg ticketing, the simple fact is that 40% of the attendees are self-identified virgins, and as such are more likely to: a) get in medical trouble, and b) not know where to go for help. In our camp, the only serious medical injury we ever had was to a virgin (while she was at an EDM camp, come to think of it). (…And no, it was not the one that I left at an EDM camp out of boredom.)

        • Much obliged, Nomad, for this, and for many other things. The BLM delay in signing the permit stipulations document of 2015 is hurting safety in the manner of construction must be completed in less time, Burners might be hurt in rushing, and construction might not be as good in due of the rush. In addendum, the permit stipulations document states of when the gate opens, when Burning Man closes, and many other items.

          In addendum, both the BLM, and the BMOrg, desire construction to start. The items of lowest importance, by the awesome DPW arses, whom are most deserving of being fed in the Burning Man staff cafeteria during the week of the burn, and all being paid $15 per hour of labour from the $30.5 million of Burning Man ticket sales, are constructing the big BLM police compound near to the 12 mile road entrance to Burning Man, with the luxuries of air conditioning and a cafeteria, and of the luxury First Camp purposed for Larry and his mates.

    • Hi, just a quick correction here. There is a difference between a UHaul Center and a UHaul Dealer. UHaul Centers are the locations named “UHaul Moving and Storage of…” and they are corporate owned. A UHaul Dealer is an independen business who has a leasing contract with UHaul (so like a gas station or store).

      Both Centers and Dealers are managed by what UHaul calls an MCO which is UHauls fancy word for a district office. The employees of these district offices are in charge of scheduling and maintaining inventory, overseeing the dealers to make sure that they are following UHaul policies and procedures and making policy specific for their area (for things like state and local laws, how inventory is moved or used at certain times of year to accommodate need….like moving a lot of inventory to California to accommodate Burner rentals).

      There are, however, no UHaul franchises.

      • Much obliged for the information, accuracy is the goal. U-Haul deserves our Gratitude for permitting, and supporting, their trucks to go to the dust. Leasing moving trucks is a difficult business, the customers are stressed in regards of their move.

        U-Haul has an awesome list of their owned U-Haul Centers, linked within this comment, from which, Burners might, perchance, have have a more standard U-Haul experience in the returning of their trucks, in due of the employees are employees of U-Haul, not employees of the the local gas station franchises independent U-Haul Dealers. Kudos are most deserved by U-Haul.

  2. Interesting how the Leave No Trace (LNT) principle stops at the Playa’s edge for most Burners; conveniently and selfishly where it is needed to ensure their permit for the following year.

    Most participants don’t give a shit about the atmospheric damage and down wind effects to others that occur every year given the amount of carbon needed to transport everyone and everything to the playa, operate the HUGE generators powering those EDM and art cars and of course all that is burned on the playa. Similarly, returning rental equipment that is beat to shit, covered in playa dust and duct tape that peels off paint is yet another example of the lack of concern for others and their property. I have even known of long-time burners that were in such a hurry to get to the playa that they left their busted down trailers on the side of the road for the county to dispose of so that they would not be inconvenienced on their way to the playa.

    Seems to me like the rental companies are simply practicing a form of self reliance by offering a way to protect their property and future customer experience in the same way that burners protect their future experience by painstakingly cleaning the playa. Given how much money is spent to attend this festival, what is another $25 if it helps practice of LNT off playa. Perhaps if more Burners were concerned about cleaning up after themselves beyond the playa, packages like this would not be needed.

      • Oh, oh!… Can we have a Decommodification Tax, please?! That is essentially what the BLM has in place, but seems like time for the BOrg to get their piece of the action! You know, like when the Feds cut themselves in on the action with “fines” when big banks “break the law?” The banks get tapped because they did not pay off the right people not to get prosecuted. …Oh wait a minute… I guess the BOrg already has that covered.

        So I suppose it’s the burners who have not yet been tapped to exploit commodification in the face of the decommodification principle. Seems like the only way to support that is to charge burners for going to the commodified camps. We could call it selling them “tickets.” What do you think?

        Two Principles down, eight to go.

  3. Isn’t that “cover up logos” one of those burnier-than-thou things that nobody really does? What about license plates – should you cover those so as not to promote a state/country?

    Are you supposed to duct tape over the Dr Martens logo on your boots? Or your beer cans?

  4. How are these different?

    1) “Buy this Burning Man kit for $25″
    2) “download my track for free”

    The MASSIVE difference between these 2 is the context.

    1) Is a response to a historic problem with property damage by Burners. It is intended to fix a problem PRE-EVENT.

    2) Is happening ON PLAYA.

    Decommodification standards on and off Playa are WAY different. Please don’t tell me that is even in question.

    • Of course it’s in question. Your response still makes no sense to me. What are you trying to say about #2? Free tracks may only be gifted off-Playa?

      • Hawking wares should not happen on the playa, ideally. I’m not kidding when I say one of my favorite things about Burning Man is that’s a bustling city with no advertising. That 7 day respite from advertising is very important to me and a lot of others, and I believe it’s one of the main factors that differentiates Burning Man from just about any other festival on the planet. Most of us don’t care much about the logo thing, we’re not purists who deny that we use branded products in order to attend. But it is appreciated when people make the effort to cover up logos. But a participant hawking their wares on the playa is different, it takes you out of the temporary commodification-free zone of BRC. It’s actually jarring when it happens, and it sucks.

        As for the U-Haul thing, it’s pretty clear that they’re blatantly using the Burning Man name in an advertisement for their product. Doesn’t matter that it’s dressed up as a “helpful hint.” There’s a link right there below the video to purchase the “Burning Man kit.” And it doesn’t matter that it’s only 25 bucks. I can’t see how this doesn’t violate copyright.

        • I agree, but the “Burning Man Kit” name is clear as to purpose. If U-haul contacted the BOrg about naming the kit, with reasonable proof, with no reply, I would give them a pass. However, I would suggest that next year they rename it the “Burner Kit” or “Decommodification Kit” or “Decommercialization Kit,” in coordination with the $4 million BOrg lawyers. However^2, if the BOrg continues to refuse any discussion, then I would let it be.

          Regardless, U-haul can still say, “Are you going to Burning Man? Please consider our Burner Kit to make decommodification of your rental easier.” You can still refer to the name of the event.

          • Can you legally refer to a copyrighted name in a product advertisement? Maybe legally you can, I’m not sure. But to me, it goes against the spirit of the event. I really can’t see how people who appreciate the decommodification aspect of Burning Man are OK with this.

            I agree the BMORG should have responded, but it is getting pretty close to the event, I’m sure they’re busy. At any rate, this is an unprecedented direct use of the Burning Man name by a major corporation, as far as I know, and I’m sure it will be addressed after the event.

          • First, if you need to get to IP details, it’s not copyright (or patent or trade secret), it is trademark. You can’t use a trademark, like “Coke,” to sell at “Coke Kit” for your truck. If you are referring to a “SuperBowl Kit,” to outfit your tuck for the game, that is also a problem. But if you say, “People headed to the SuperBowl might want to buy our $25 Football Kit to decorate your truck,” you are in an area for lawyers. What if they gave a SuperBowl discount? A Burning Man discount?

            But it is a grey area compared to delivering a decorated truck to you on the playa for a fee. If they are indistinguishable to you, you don’t understand.

            And if a $4 million budget for lawyers does not support response to inquiries from recognized business concerns, even at this late date, the BOrg is being taken for a legal ride.

    • For some of us, the difference is clear, but not for others. Both Burnersxxx and I are software entrepreneurs, with dramatically different levels of success, but he does not see the special commercial-free/gift place that the playa should be for many of us. As I have said before, he believes in Christmas but not in Santa Claus.

  5. I think it has more to do with getting Burners renting U-Hauls to “come clean” and admit they are going (or have gone with truck) to Burning Man and been on the Playa

  6. It sounds like UHAUL just got tired of scraping leftover duct tape off of their trucks. Settle down.

  7. I like what U-Haul is doing here. Their trucks are massive billboards and people have pretty much given up on covering the logos since these graphics have become so large. Most Burners don’t bother anymore or are afraid they might damage the truck and get fined. This kit is a good way to be sure you are using material that won’t bake on or remove the paint later.

  8. I think I am really sick of burners.me defending the dancestronaut dj by changing his words.

    “download my track for free” Is not what he was saying over and over again.

    It was “dropping this album next week, I want everyone here to BUY IT” and “BUY my album”

    I have read burners.me defending that dbag almost as many times as I had to listen to him try to sell me shit at the burn. Get your facts straight. I am sure there are several thousand others who can back me up on what was being said.

  9. I’m curious to find out where it says that we have to cover up the labels on such things like it’s some reality TV show. What’s the problem? Is BMORG worried about getting sued by UHaul?

    Anyway… if you’re really that concerned… there’s also another solution.
    1) Purchase the insurance that they push on you when you rent (and really isn’t a bad idea when bringing a rental to the Playa).
    2) Decorate/Cover your truck as needed.
    3) Return the truck, claiming plausible deniability on any “damage”.
    4) Let UHaul deal with it. That’s what you paid insurance for.

    • Yeah, like a Reality TV show: No product placements unless you pay an advertising fee. Pretty sure U-haul made that kit in hopes to entice guys like you, Dallas.

      …BOrg,I hope you are happy about what this has turned into under your flawed stewardship.

    • Here you go, scroll down to Logos and Branding: http://survival.burningman.org/culture/being-a-good-citizen-of-brc/

      Dallas, have you even been? It’s not about BMORG getting sued by U-Haul, covering logos is part of how burner culture does decommodification.

      I can’t believe burnersxxx doesn’t know that covering logos is a thing (maybe not as much of a thing as it was 10 years ago, but still). Did you really not know this, burnersxxx? How is that possible? Or are you pretending you didn’t know about this not quite a “rule”, but definitely not “unwritten” to stir up shit?

      • Sure, I know that it is a “thing”. Is it a rule? Have you heard of people turned away at the gate because they didn’t obey it? Do you know of any other companies selling Decommodification Kits?

      • Burnersxxx has an agenda to make it seem the BOrg is making up rules to restrain burner freedom, but only seems interested in things that restrain EDM camps and other commercial enterprises from making the playa part of their default world. Since the BOrg is bending the Tin Principles into unrecognizable convolutions (like placing CCamps on the Esplinade), he figures that entitles everyone to do it. You know, like if politicians lie to us, we can lie to others.

        Sink to the lowest level so you will not be under-cut and made a fool. Be sure you are one of the predators and not the prey. Do unto others before they do unto you.

        Rather than the thankless job of holding the BOrg to their own articles of incorporation, it is more fun to do as they do. Hell, that’s why they do it!

        And if anyone challenges your actions, just claim the right of Radical Inclusion!! It always trumps all the other Tin Principles. We should radically include people who come in U-haul trucks displaying their logos, and save the $25. See how easy that is? 🙂

  10. I give a crap about the logos, but this seems like a decent way to put some art on the side of the truck in a way that won’t cost me money and that won’t come off in a stiff breeze, like masking tape and paper does.

  11. “UHaul Requires Burning Man Kit” – where is this required? Seems totally optional.
    “This is getting ridiciulous” (FB description) – this is mildly interesting at best.

    I’ve been following burners.me for a long time and gotten some great info here, but the way you sensationalize and clickbait things is bugging me.

    • How terrible it must have been for you, to have wanted to read the article and clicked it. You think it’s cool to charge people $25 and make them spend 90 minutes covering the logos on a rental truck? You can’t see the irony in that?

      Where is it required? It is the first thing said in both the video and the text. Not sure how much clearer I could make it for you.

      • No, it’s a way for them to cover up their logos while largely removing the risk of getting charged for cleaning up an ad-hoc guesswork job. It is applying experience where it is needed, as well as setting a good example for those that need it.

  12. Clearly people have been duct taping over their truck logos for years. This is a way to follow the principles and avoid damage/fees. I think this is a great example of corporations working *with* the community.

  13. Check out the “Bartering Supplies” section below. This kind of thing makes me laugh every time it crops up in the default world. Reminds me of a clueless high school guidance counselor trying to relate to students by wearing wacky socks.

  14. They likely wised up and decided to put a kit together than is non-adhesive. Can’t count the number of trucks I’ve seen where logos were covered with cardboard and affixed to the shell and body with duck tape. I’m sure some here know just how nasty of a mess that sun baked adhesive residue leaves on a surface of any kind.

    • Do you really think they are planning to make mad profits off this? The advertising is worth much more to them. It is more likely that someone with some influence in the company cares about the tradition and has actually attended Burning Man.

  15. That’s smart of Uhaul from a marketing standpoint. They probably had too many trucks returned with logos damaged or marked up. $25 seems fair, considering the effort and time driving around Reno to accomplish the same thing.

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