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Karoondinha: Another Festival Fail of 2017

By Sara Salter, Director of Consulting

This year is turning out to be a bust for many summer festivals. Karoondinha, a Centre Hall first-year festival slated to have many big names like Chance the Rapper, Paramore and John Legend, has been added to the list of unsuccessful festivals that have caught the attention of news outlets recently. A few months ago, we all witnessed the disaster that was Fyre Festival, as well as the cancelation of Canada’s Pemberton festival last month. Karoondinha, looking to be held late July at Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park, caused a PR storm when then they took down the festival’s website and deleted their Twitter account in late June.

The festival had lots of promise–co-founders Paul and Kaleena Rallis went to great lengths to ensure that the festival had an impressive lineup and ample marketing by hiring four different agencies to get the job done. So, what went wrong? It all comes down to low ticket sales and high costs.

Ticket sales were estimated to exceed 25,000 but drastically fell short where Rallis suggested they should have projected for 8,000 instead. It’s easy to see that this misstep in addition to the budget for marketing, nearly 20,000 per agency, as well as the cost to pay for the featured artists spelled doom for Karoondinha.

Crisis often brings out a brand’s true colors and from a PR standpoint that can make or break a consumer’s loyalty and prevent them from ever coming back. For a brand in its infancy, this was a blow to Karoondinha’s reputation. In the crises spectrum, the founders handled things decently as they collaborated with Eventbrite to refund everyone’s ticket purchases, apologized, and offered complete transparency when interviewed. They remained hopeful that maybe Karoondinha is just postponed – until when is still a mystery. Either way, it remains as a reminder that having big names doesn’t guarantee a festival’s success but rather a sustainable business model and proper PR management can make all the difference.

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