The Wonka weirdness is a creative opportunity for someone – just like the Fyre Festival debacle

The Wonka weirdness is a creative opportunity for someone – just like the Fyre Festival debacle

You can’t have missed last week’s Willy's Chocolate Experience — an unsightly blemish on the noble city of Glasgow and an embarrassment to anyone who’s ever worked in the events industry.

Social media is OBSSESSED level. 

Someone’s probably being unleashed to bag This Morning an exclusive interview with the Oopma Loompa as we speak. And a generation may grow up traumatised by flashbacks of a man in a silver mask.

Willy’s Chocolate Experience was equal to the car-crash that was Fyre Festival. For those too young to remember, I’m too old to forget: security, accommodation, medical services and music all went incredibly wrong. Promised gourmet meals and luxury villas turned out to be pre-packaged sandwiches and tents. It was postponed indefinitely and Billy McFarmer, the brains behind it all, was sentenced to six years in jail. A Netflix documentary followed.

But some good came of it all, from the most unlikely of places: a south coast football team. 

Southampton FC took the cultural touchpaper lit by the Fyre failure and used it…to launch a new kit. It was the work of my then-agency, Mischief. I very much can’t be on the credits but since I was the head of planning, I’m happy to take credit for being in the same office at the time.

The agency-client team had already ‘moved the goalposts’ for kit launches with a piss-take of Liverpool’s throw-in coach, the appointment of Dr Barry Gale, and his ‘Player Integrated Stripes Strategy’. That increased sales by 20% and saw them crowned 'the greatest media team in the world' with plaudits from fans, opponents, and other clubs worldwide (Real and Barca if memory serves).

They followed this up with a parody of a kit launch on a desert island, masterminded by ‘Mbilly McFarmer’. Tapping into the hype around the Fyre Festival documentary, the team created a mockumentary, turning Saints into SAYNTS and unveiling: SAYNTS: THE GREATEST KIT LAUNCH THAT NEVER HAPPENED.

Ideas for both these kit launches were developed in-house, and then produced and directed in partnership with Black Shark Media. The players’ delivery was as pitch-perfect on camera as on the field, with truly award-worthy performances from stars including Danny Ings. It was a genuinely different take at a time when a kit unveil mainly involved someone standing and holding it.

So, this week don’t just think hot-takes on Willy’s Chocolate Experience, think whether you could take it somewhere creatively…I genuinely think people would pay £35 to go to a recreation of the debacle for starters.

Image credit: Stuart Sinclair/Facebook

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