Reporting Scott T. Sterling
While Coachella has grown into one of America’s premiere music festivals, the sheer size and influence of the massive event has turned it into something of a marketer’s dream. While A-list musical acts perform over three days in Indio, CA, the surrounding area (including Palm Springs) turns into a party and event hub with record labels, brands and advertisers of all stripes staking their claim on the thousands of concertgoers in town for the weekend.
While it can take a lot to stand out in the endless field of Coachella-related party invitations, L.A. fashion magazine Flaunt pushed things to an extreme with a party called “New Guantanamo,” with an event flier (seen to the left) featuring scantily-clad models brandishing assault rifles with promises of “pleasurable torture.”
Fashion website Refinery29 was quick to call out the questionable party theme, labeling it “completely absurd.”
As word spread about the party, event sponsor Smashbox responded that they had no idea that the party would have a Guantanamo Bay theme, and that after speaking with Flaunt reps, announced that the magazine had agreed to change the name and artwork.
“When we saw the flier going around, a few of our clients emailed us and we saw some of the Twitter news, we were like, ‘what’s going on?’” Dee Delara, Smashbox’s vice-president of marketing and creative, told Radio.com. “At that point, we had discussed with Flaunt changing the event theme and after reading their comments to the press, we decided to pull out.”
According to website Fashionista, co-sponsor True Religion has also pulled out of the event.
“In its 15-year history, Flaunt has not shied away from controversy or provocation. We routinely cover topics of social and political contention,” the magazine responded in the aforementioned press statement to BuzzFeed. “At our event, we intend to create an atmosphere of fun, and the spirit and theme were never intended to cause offense or harm. Guantanamo has been controversial from its inception, and that an unresolved human rights issue is again fetching headlines is, in our opinion, true to our aims as a publication. We value and respect the public’s concern and are taking action.”
“We have a good relationship with the editor-in-chief,” Delara continued about Smashbox’s dialogue with Flaunt. “It took some strong-arming, but yeah. Hopefully they have [changed it]. I haven’t seen any new artwork yet with the new name change, but they had agreed to change the name to ‘Night Shift,’” she said, adding that the event is in no way connected to the Coachella festival.
(Additional reporting by Jay Tilles, Radio.com)