Quiznos Commodifies Burner Culture [Updates]

homer quiznos

20th Century Fox has a new film coming out “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”. Quiznos makes sandwiches. Put two and two together, and what do you get?

Burning Man 2.0. When the Shark ate the Subway.

Here’s the “offensive” commercial:

Taco Bell did it first. Without any known repercussions. So why wouldn’t their competitors try it too?

BMOrg are pissed. Could it be because these guys hit a little too close to home, and somehow nailed EXACTLY the problems happening with our culture now? You know, the ones BMOrg either deny exist, or tell us they’ve listened to us and completely solved (while actually doing nothing), or if there is any acknowledgement, blame on us?

Laugh at yourselves, Burners. Because some of this is really freaking ridiculous. A unicorn car that shoots fireballs? Is that somehow not ridiculous?

Some choice quotes:

“Don’t you understand?

Understand what?

How to look cool on Instagram?”

“They lied to us. They said it was an anti establishment society based on radical self expression. Now it’s become a place for rich people to tick off their bucket list.

True dat.

How does BMOrg respond? “Ha ha, yes that’s funny, everything we do is just an ironic prank, like all the Satan/Hellco stuff, or being the first org since the Nazis to officially employ a Minister of Propaganda?”

Nope. Threats of lawsuits. Quelle surprise.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Burning Man isn’t laughing at a new Quizno’s advertisement.

The toasted sandwich company published a parody video, “Out of the Maze and into the Playa,” on YouTube earlier this week, a day after the weeklong utopian arts celebration in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert concluded on Monday. The plot sends the characters of the “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” a not-so-well reviewed science fiction thriller to be released later this month, to Burning Man as a test of character…

Burning Man takes issue with the clip and is considering legal action, not because of the mockery it makes of the more than 70,000-person annual event but because the video is theft of the event’s intellectual property, according to Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham.

“We are pretty proactive about protecting our 10 principles, one of which is decommodification,” 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…We’ll be coordinating with our legal team to see what action we can take…Burning Man’s busiest time of year, when it comes to defending decommodification, is immediately after the Burn, Graham said, when companies and individuals attempt to market their products by paring [pairing] them with Burning Man content.

…Burning Man has taken it to legal action in the past…Burning Man won the lawsuit against Girls Gone Wild, Graham said…Burning Man makes an effort to support certain businesses that serve the Burner community, many of them Reno-based, by promoting them in one of Burning Man’s annual newsletters each year before the event.

It’s not Commodification when BMOrg does it. Still, I’m all for supporting local Burner-friendly businesses, including the 100+ vendors licensed to sell stuff at Burning Man. Quiznos seems pretty Burner-friendly to me; clearly, they understand where our culture is at in late 2015.

Burning Man had not taken any legal action against Quizno’s as of Thursday evening.

[Source: RGJ]

Fat-Homer-SimpsonI find some chuckles in the empty threat of the $30 million charity tax-exempt non-profit BMOrg suing the $8 billion phone hackers over at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, or the $14 billion hedge fund behind Quiznos. To make their case, Larry and Marian would have to swear on the Bible that parody is not a legitimate art form and must be censored and suppressed. Then they would have to prove how their sold out event was financially harmed by millions of dollars worth of mainstream media advertising – while the other Fox product, The Simpsons, can parody Burning Man and that’s totally fine.

Personally, I think this Quiznos ad is brilliant. Timely. Poignant. Very funny. #nailedit!

“The course of this festival will determine the course of humanity. Until next week when you return to your desk jobs”

If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Perhaps this is karma for all the Satanic pranking of Burners by BMOrg lately, such as bugs are here and they’re everywhere and they crawl up inside you and bite” at burningman.com, or don’t share photos that we share on social media, that’s why we have teams of lawyers”; or lining up at Will Crawl for 8 hours with no shade or water to pick up your $400 tickets; or the idea that we are saving the world through a dusty rave; or that we are supporting the arts by underpaying artists and screwing them in contracts and saying they shouldn’t ever sign their work. Even the theme this year was that we’re all chumps, suckers, and rubes, while they’re hucksters and carny barkers.

It sure has seemed like they’re laughing at us in recent years. Well, now the whole world is laughing at them. Let’s see how they take it. So far, not so good.

Given the recent mass media obsession with Burning Man, this lawsuit (were it to ever eventuate) could rapidly become the biggest story in the world – a convenient distraction from the real current affairs of global economic meltdown, Hillary keeping State Department secrets on a home-brew email server shared with her tax exempt non profit, refugees who are all young men of fighting age storming Europe, and Israel/US lining up against Russia/Iran in Syria over gas pipeline routes.

BMOrg’s usual trick of going to the media to fight their battles against small town judges and sheriffs, ain’t gonna work against the world’s biggest and most powerful media group and the world’s 13th largest hedge fund.

Chocotacos just seem so quaint these days.



[Update 9/12/15 1:58am PST]

Quiznos is a privately held company with revenues of about $400 million and more than 2000 stores around the world. It is the #2 sandwich maker in the US, after Subway. Since 2012 they have been majority owned by Avenue Capital Group, an international investment firm with 200 employees and offices in 8 countries. It is the 13th largest hedge fund in the world, 15% owned by Morgan Stanley, with $14 billion assets under management. Chelsea Clinton worked there from 2006-2009.

The founders of Avenue Capital previously worked for multi-billionaire Robert Bass, who is Chairman of Reno-based supersonic aviation company Aerion Corp, a DARPA contractor.

Quiznos has a long history of legal battles, they are no stranger to court and seem to have used lawsuits for marketing before.

[Update 9/12/15 3:10am PST]

Thanks very much to Nomad for finding this. Toasty.TV is part of a broader Quiznos parody marketing campaign.

57 comments on “Quiznos Commodifies Burner Culture [Updates]

  1. Pingback: The Burn Trials – Burning Man Threatens Law Suit Over Quizno’s Parody Ad

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  3. Pingback: Suing For Your Supper | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  4. “Jim Graham told sfgate.com, noting ‘that Quiznos never requested official permission to PARODY the festival.'”

    Thankfully the PR lackeys did what they’re underpaid for and said nothing to stop, corporate executive, Marian from approving the “parody” quote. So it just admonished and sunk any hopes for a lawsuit.

    Larry Flint’s Hustler lawsuit paved the way for parody being the one thing that supersedes lawsuit culture. BMOrg will have to grab a box of tissues and sob that humor is still barely legal!

    Definitely, any jury watching that commercial is going to look at the BM legal team and after falling out of their seats laughing, ask what kind of crack they’re smoking before the defense team is awarded legal fees and damages, which will naturally cause the BMOrginaires Club to ponder, for the better part of seven seconds, doubling the “vehicle fee” to cover.

    Well played by Quiznos, whoever thought that up can write their own ticket, but probably not to TTitD. Since the lawsuit is now unwinnable, at least without cost-prohibitive re-greasing of politicians, the door is now wide open for every other corp to do the same.

    • Though there is a lot of overlap with what was posted above, the Daily Beast nailed this pretty good. I am still amazed at how NPD myopic the Borg are. I suppose that they are rationalizing that an unsuccessful lawsuit will nonetheless tend to scare off others, they miss that it encourages those with big pockets to use them for viral marketing leverage.

      The Borg are like Lindsay Graham, destroying his cell phone when The Donald gave out the number; while when the same was dome to him, The Donald used the number to give a recorded campaign solicitation. The Borg are so quaintly and pathetically 20th c.

      Dear Borg: Please, please, please sue them!!

  5. I posted this elsewhere in a call to boycott Quiznos in a burner FB group…
    I hated that Maze movie… at least this was better than that. >_< I have to admit, I giggled at this video. And were they selling things at BM while they did this? Or is it that they paid the actors that gets it marked as "commodification". One thing though… Let's be honest, once BM passed the 30k people mark, it became part of the mainstream consciousness in a way that inclusiveness would be led to accept. This mini film is evidence of that. IMHO.
    I mean, the video points out things I have seen said in Burner groups and message boards and blogs… or is this like that old adage of only family can make fun? *shrugs*
    *goes back to hula hooping and spinning poi to EDM*

  6. Great video. Parody as an art form is totally protected under copyright law. I would welcome a lawsuit against a corporation with deeper pockets to see just how far the BMOrg thinks they can go in curtailing first amendment rights in the guise of intellectual property protection. While Decommodification is a principle of the community, it certainly is not backed by any rule of law that I am aware of and Larry himself has talked about how the principles are more like guidelines and not rules that must be followed, which is how they talked their way around the supporting of the selling of Safari camp experiences. It’s good to see the sword cutting both ways and I am definitely going to vote with my consumer spending at Quiznos.

    About the only thing they didn’t touch on in this video is the astonishing amount of “art projects” based on genitalia put on by camps all over the playa every year. The event guide is filled with a plethora of events based around highlighting human genitalia or some sort of sexually charged interaction. Does anyone really need to have their sexual parts painted, air-brushed, decorated, photographed, sculpted, modeled, drawn, just to name a few. I am not sure that I understand how this overt fascination with human sex organs and immature approach to human sexuality makes the Burning community any different than the culture at large or even a glorified frat party; but since sex sells, it would make for a great movie.

  7. Brilliant video! I’d expect a chicken shit response from the greedy corporate pigs running the event.

    I bet their flunkies are having conniption fits. How can anybody mock the event that is going to save the world??? Expect a bitchy response on the bm blog.

  8. If the stars of this piece were sherpas and entertainers in a CCamp run by a BMP BoD catered by Quiznos (not necessarily sponsored, but paid catering as a component of a meal plan), this could almost be a documentary. Part of the plot would be scaring the hired help and private dancers into never wanting to leave the staff area of the camp to see what else is happening elsewhere in the VIP areas of camp. And in no circumstances whatsoever would these staff members be permitted to leave camp, and they would likewise be intimidated against doing so by threats of crazies “out there”, as well as be punishable by firing and banishment including; no paycheck, no place to sleep, no food or water, no clothes but those on their backs, and possible death due to starvation, dehydration, and exposure to the elements. Of course, said banished staff would be assumed to be easily replaced by posting their job on a public BRC bulletin board or something. When seen as a criticism of people like Jimmy T, and not Burners who have actually literally and metaphorically built it up into the thing that have put it on peoples’ bucket lists in the first place, the piece reads more like an expose’.

  9. The BM event and its culture has become a parody of its former self. This commercial is a parody of that parody. The Kool Aid drinkers watch this and don’t know whether to go shit or go sailing.

  10. HILARIOUS. The best part is watching the fall-out in the BM community. Even funnier than the ad. Indignation, seriousness, funny comments, pure laughter, “burnier than thou-ness” etc. As diverse as the folks who attend are.

  11. I recommend downloading the video with keepvid.com, as its days are likely numbered. For ultimate Streisand Effect, re-upload it wherever possible.

    The artistry of this ad has many levels. It confuses the viewer, and in that confusion the only option is to buy the sandwich. It’s brilliant and goes levels beyond mere irony and into the land of deep cynicism and poignancy, a place where few hipsters ever explore, as irony is even a little bit too complicated for them.

    • Agree about the levels of cynicism on display here. The ad is very funny and spot on. As always, we should be able to laugh at the absurdity of whatever it is we’re into, especially something like Burning Man, while also still valuing it, if one still does. I applaud the creators of the ad for their artistry here. But, and maybe this makes me naive, the commercialism pisses me the fuck off. I do hope the BMORG files a suit and wins. This is BY FAR the most blatant use of the Burning Man name by a large corporation, as far as I know.

      • A lawsuit would be very interesting. The video is not necessarily a commercial, but is clearly a parody. It was also clearly NOT shot at the NV burn, and the recognizable images are arguable interpretations. (Maybe you own my picture, but how can you claim rights to a painting I made at home?)

        Under contract law, the NV burn ticket disclaimer could be challenged for compensation. Can you compensate someone with what others volunteer as gifts? Does the Borg really have the rights they claim to the works of others. Were artist contracts made under duress? There lawsuit grounds could open up a whole rats nest for them.

        Under tort law, the Borg cannot be capricious in applying it’s IP claims. They might be scurrying now to make some pre-dated IP agreements with their commercial interests and over 100 vendors.

        The discovery could be very interesting, particularly since the Borg would want that all confidential, yet claims can be made that it is excluding other interested parties – the burners – who collectively have a greater interest than the Borg. Remember, the Borg claims their IP rights to protect the rights of the burners. Can you sue to protect a group or class and exclude that group or class from knowledge?

        Regardless, it will justify the $4 million annual lawyer budget, and bring down all the more “bullying” charges like they got when they sued the Canadians. The Borg have a fundamental blind spot to how their NPD actions are viewed by those outside of their control. It should be fun!!

        • LOVE IT!! and watched the Quiznos BM one again, LOVE IT!!

          i am eating Quiznos for dinner tonight… and I can only hope it does not give me the same %$#^!*& it gave me last time, but I am going all in, these guys deserve my business, just for the laughs… now where is my ass i laughed off.

        • Once you see this is part of “Toasty.tv,” you can see that it is just one of dozens of parodies with only the most passing reference to Quiznos. No judge in his right mind could find in favor of the Borg in differentiation to all the other subjects. And if they found the whole of Toasty.tv guilty, that would be a monumental wrong of the freedom of speech.

          Yes, I would DEARLY love for the Borg to take Toasty.tv to court! PLEASE!!!


  12. The BMorg may not be laughing, but we are laughing at the BMorg.

    The BMorg sold out its anti-commodification BS a long time ago. When tickets went from $35 to $800 = SELLOUT!! Putting plug and play camp promoters on the board = SELL OUT!! Doing the Simpson episode = SELL OUT!!! Allowing the plug and play camp promoters to sell tickets for $10,000-$20,000 and make a huge profit on the backs of the BM volunteer efforts of the city = SELLOUT!!

    I understand the BMorg suing everyone they possibly can to protect their jizz, and I understand why the have 200-300 attorneys (PAID LAWYERS, NOT VOLUNTEERS) on retainer, but it is joke for the BMorg to act like they they doing this the interest of protecting the BMprinciples This law suit is all about the money baby,. it is all about cold hard cash, it is all about commodification to the Nth

    All this lawsuit will do is give Quiznos and the movie more publicity… hmmm come to think of it…. maybe the movie “We are your friends” should have added some blatant BM jizz to their movie, so they could get sued too and maybe gotten some publicity and maybe sold more than the 10-15 tickets they did.

  13. That commercial was so spot on and truthful. Far more truth than BMOrg wants to tell. While I don’t like using our culture as an advertisement tool, it was far too real for me to hate it one bit. Sad when Quizznos gets it, but the Org, and many people in our culture don’t. I would love to shake the hands of the team who wrote that commercial/parody.

    I look forward to BMOrg losing a lawsuit, if filed. They need to be shown they are not untouchable. It’s their own doing, trying for so much media attention (when it’s positive, anyways). You can’t want the good attention and expect zero bad attention, the bad is bound to show up sooner or later.

    I would also expect a counter-suit against BMOrg, if they send out the lawyers. Too much corporate financial backing with Quizznos to not see that coming. Burning Man will probably just bully some small, well meaning groups, (possibly Canadians) for retribution. Gotta take out your anger on those smaller and weaker than you, right? (Que Pink Floyd’s song, “Dogs”)

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