Privilege614 Launches Event Series, Deals with Social Media Negativity
When you start a brand new event series, creating word-of-mouth marketing buzz is often a challenge. And it can occasionally backfire. The sting of social media was felt by a group of local friends who launched “Privilege” last weekend as a new event series designed to showcase and celebrate local talent. While their first event was well attended and well received, a swarm of negative public backlash took over #privilege hashtags across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in a manner that caught the group off guard.
We reached out to Privilege founders Marlon Anthony, Jermaine Jenkins and Alexia Winfield to find out more about what exactly their event series is all about, what went wrong this week, and how they’re planning to move forward.
Walker Evans: First things first… What exactly is Privilege614?
Jermaine Jenkins: The three of us, three weeks ago dreamt up this idea of a social lifestyle that we wanted and wanted to bring others into. Privilege is an effort, an approach to cultivate a lifestyle of hope and inspiration to a greater goal. Centered here in Columbus, a mecca to a budding Creative Class we felt it was a Privilege — a special right, a rare opportunity, a pleasure and ultimately an honor to celebrate in the successes of others. We want people to connect through a social environment in which is safe, positive and most of all, inspiring. It is our hope to progress these interests through entrepreneurship, networking, fashion, art, and food. Moreover we seek to push an enjoyable time by getting people out of their usual social circles.
Marlon Anthony: We approached this as invite only, social media marketing and through some street marketing in coffee shops in area neighborhoods. About 300 attendees gathered at our event this past weekend and allowed us to meet our goal – as we not only showcased local talent, but we also added value to artists’ lives by giving them meaningful connections. That night, we received emails of thanks, many messages were centered on inspiration, joy and our dream seemed to take full affect – the pleasure of collective and creative freedom – a privilege we all share.
WE: What was the original reason for starting Privilege614?
Alexia Winfield: We felt there was a social void that needed to be filled here in Columbus. Again, that is not be confused with exclusivity but we wanted an event that brought folks together and showcased local talent.
WE: So it sounds like the first event was pretty well received by those who attended. Do you have a background in event planning / promotion?
AW: Jermaine and Marlon have had success in the past with doing parties and other types of social events, but we have never worked together as a group before. Together, we’ve done one event thus far and the feedback we have received from guests has been overwhelmingly positive. It was a success to us. If you’d ask, do we have some things to approve upon, we would say yes. We have a long list of things to improve upon, as no production is perfect, especially in the realm of adding quality connections.
WE: In the past few days, there’s been a huge explosion of chatter about Privilege via social media. Was that anything you expected or did it catch you off guard?
MA: We anticipated a little buzz, mostly organic through social media, but not this much. We knew a lot of people that would be excited about the possibility, and the outcome, as we invested a great deal amount of time for the event. Although, I will say, we had no idea that our efforts, and inspiration would attract negative attention. So yes the negative attention caught us off guard. In actuality, we didn’t anticipate the name of our event “Privilege” to be taken as an insult.
JJ: Privilege is a special right, a rare opportunity, a pleasure and ultimately an honor to highlight and celebrate in the successes of others. Having said that, we wanted to invite others to enjoy the achievements and uplift one another as artists and the progress that has been made. That word is uplifting to us.
AW: The negative backlash that started Sunday night through this morning, made a mockery of everything we worked toward. Folks made memes of the promotional photography, event pictures, called us names, with personal attacks on us. This came from a really dark place of hate, became a witch-hunt – a “mobbing group-think” mentality that left all of us disappointed. If you look at the specific demographics of the backlash it makes an interest sting case study. There are so many layers (i.e. cultural, racial, etc.) to this that we rather not get into.
JJ: We are however grateful for those that reached out, and gave us support.
WE: Is there any particular way that you’ve reached out to people to deal with the negativity?
AW: We are mindful of it, but we have chosen to focus more on our inspiration, our genuine efforts, and on the the people who truly support us or are interested in finding out more about this movement we have created. Those are the people we intend to cater to, those are the inspired that should feel honored to share in a creative effort, a privilege. At the end of the day we’re all about good vibes, and fostering positive relationships with others.
WE: Is there any specific message you want to make clear about what Privilege614 is or is not?
MA: We’re not a group of douche bags who sip tea with our pinkies up and look down our nose at others. We are not elitist. As a group we’re your everyday, hard working people, who have big dreams and want to enjoy life. We’re all about having a good time with other good people and building relationships in the process. With the help of some friends and the local community, we are shaping the brand of Privilege toward a concise and engaging message. Hopefully, you can help with constructing in these efforts or the overall creative environment of Columbus. We are currently co-hosting an event with a local designer to highlight her achievements during the upcoming Gallery Hop. We’ll be at the Garden Theater. Please look for an announcement, for further details.
AW: Thank you again, for this moment of clarity.
For more information, visit privilege614.tumblr.com.