Doing business with the public comes with great social responsibility. In 2012, many new businesses commenced, each with their own backing and marketing. “Survival of the fittest” never shone brighter, as mainly the strongest businesses survived the year, while those without a proper business plan closed. Entrepreneurs can seek out help from third parties, who usually would not hesitate if they receive some benefit in return. In order to garner more publicity to these businesses, event planners hold festivals for the public that contain multiple similar businesses. Some of these fests turn out well, while some others fall hard. When some people do not like the event purely because it does not fit their likings, those reviews can slide by. But when an event causes problems for lots of potential attendees, you have a social issue at hand. While 2012 saw many terrific public events, 2012 also saw a handful of events that did not live up to the expectations of the guests of the respective event. As an event-based marketer, I narrowed down my catalog to a semi-top 5 list of fests that flopped this year. These fests did not only affect me – they affected other guests too, taking into consideration how many others felt the same way I did. On a side note, none of these events carry an associated Twitter account.

5. TIE: Taste of West Orange County and Harvest Moon Festival


Both of these events clock in at number five for the same reason: putting corporates before the mom & pop shops. The Taste of West Orange County originally claimed to boast over 40 of the finest local restaurants for a $30 admission. They ended up only carrying nine different vendors, mostly consisting of corporate businesses like Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks, and Sam’s Club. The Harvest Moon Festival also promised to feature plenty of local shops at their fest. I had to plow through the long lines of people at booths for McDonald’s, Starbucks, Hyundai, Toyota, Wells Fargo, Verizon, and more before I discovered the so-called local businesses tucked away at the back, where few people even realized those booths existed. Why host a fest to grant marketing privileges to established corporate companies? The people already have heard of these companies, and most have gone to or consumed from one. For anyone hosting a fest like this, pay attention to the local businesses, and give less attention to corporates, since the corporates have a plan and know what to do to continue their success.

4. Long Beach Sea Feast-ival

How the mighty have fallen… Here you see an example of what happens when progress goes south. The Long Beach Sea Feast-ival originally started two years ago as a food fest for all of Long Beach. Many local food businesses in Long Beach set up at this fest on the pier and sampled their food to guests for free. Although the tickets cost $50 per person, they proudly held the title as the official Long Beach Food Fest. Fast forward to this year, and their decision to overhaul the fest has downsized the fest by leagues, as the extent of the fest reduced to only the end of the pier. Admission decreased to $20 per person, but in exchange, all guests still had to pay for food. Speaking of food, no longer about Long Beach local businesses, a local fisherman provided all the seafood for the day: lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, and more. Unfortunately, the exorbitant food prices coupled with the bad quality made for an uneasy trip to the restroom afterwards. What happened to servicing the local restaurants of Long Beach? The original food fest setup worked wonderfully – why change to this tiny little “fest” that essentially marketed just one guy? Follow the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and you shall succeed with your goals.

3. The Chocolate & Art Show (Experience)

Every event promoter needs marketing to have a successful event. Unfortunately to the public, you cannot always identify the legitimacy of marketing sometimes. The organizers behind the Chocolate & Art Show (Experience) marketed more than they delivered. If you use ALL CAPS to market something, one should expect to clearly witness such a thing at the event, correct? From their event website, they claimed these in ALL CAPS: DJ’s & bands all night, gourmet artisanal chocolate, nude body painting, and tons of art. We can already get the art out of the way, since this took place at an art gallery anyways. As for the music, only one band played the entire night, and they had to take occasional breaks, leading to periods of silence throughout the gallery sans the expected chatter among the guests. I hate the word gourmet as much as I hate the word foodie because of the desensitization of the definition. I mean, to some people, they can call mini Snickers and Three Musketeers gourmet chocolate. But if you ask me, I would NEVER consider mass-produced candy as gourmet. Did the organizers really believe they could get away with giving away Halloween candy as their “gourmet chocolates”? Lastly, if you market nude body painting, I expect to see real naked bodies in the flesh. I expected to see women, but even men would have fulfilled their promise to feature nude body painting. I did not expect to see just paintings of nude people. Sadly, it appears that event organizers can get away with marketing something grander than reality. Heck I could even inform someone “You won a brand new car!” and give that person an unwrapped Hot Wheels car, as that qualifies my statement as true.

2. Manhattan Beach Beer Fest

When one man complains about something, most would simply discredit him. When hundreds of people complain, they may hold a valid argument. Entering the Manhattan Beach Beer Fest, guests immediately saw the problem. The fest itself ran fine, but entering the fest caused many headaches and swollen veins. The organizers decided to allow only a single file line to enter, but the entire time, only one security guard checked ID’s, and he started doing so at 3pm when the fest started. Because all guests could only purchase will-call tickets, the volunteer at the will-call table had to check ID’s once more. In addition, only one person worked the will-call table. Did they just not have enough volunteers? This food fest also hosted some food trucks, including the infamous Grilled Cheese Truck. However, some local business provided free food for the first hour. Gather all of this information together, and you will spot the frustration shared among hundreds of guests. For a beer fest lasting only three hours, the organizers ought to maximize the guests’ time within the fest, not waste their time checking them in. Also, why invite food trucks when someone else provides free food, and why provide it for only the first hour if it took longer than an hour to check everyone in? To avoid amateur mistakes, event organizers need to attend similar events to learn from them. Event organizers should never operate solely on research without real experiences – these real experiences teach infinitely more than research ever can.

1. Color Mob

No, I do not even have my own picture of the event because I simply never made it, as did thousands of ticket holders. The organizers of Color Mob perhaps got a little too excited to throw their first event that they overlooked one exceedingly important factor: transportation. They picked a venue far in the mountains away from civilization due to the nature of a color run – fine, we get that. However, know that only one road leads to that location, which stretches for miles before entering a city again. Also consider that the location could hold no more than 3,000 cars, excluding camper vans, motor homes, trucks, and other large vehicles. Why would you still sell over 10,000 tickets? Did you honestly expect all tens of thousands of ticket holders to carpool to this remote location, a place that has no cell phone reception because of its far proximity from the city? For selling that many tickets, they still only ran one start time instead of staggering it – if they had a few thousand per hour, traffic would not have frustrated so many people as it did. And apparently many people did carpool, as I witnessed many people leaving their cars to run to the venue. As many of them passed, I shouted at them to demand refunds, which I eventually discovered that many had done, but to no avail – the Color Mob organizers firmly stated all sales final, no matter what happened. Enraged, hundreds of ticket holders ranted on their Facebook page. Showing lack of professionalism and social responsibility, instead of acknowledging this issue, they chose to never address it and delete all negative comments from their Facebook wall. They also somehow removed their tag from my post about them a few weeks ago. Nobody should ever have to tolerate or give money to a group as irresponsible as this. I humbly bestow Color Mob the 2012 Badge of Shame.

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