"The costumes that people didn't like, our designers did not like them either," admits Wyatt Gallery, acting general manager and co-founder of Island People Mas. He was responding to questions during a Sunday Vibe interview, focusing on the band's decision to scrap the original prototypes for the 2012 portrayal of Heroes, which was unveiled publicly in August and management's aggressive redesign and marketing strategy to correct its consumer failings. Of the 11-plus designs, half were condemned. The remainder was re-worked. "The launch did not go so well. I took it upon myself to step up and do whatever I can to get the team re-inspired. I saw myself as just someone to motivate and inspire everyone, to see how we could turn this negative situation into a positive: Listen to the people...Do what they want," he said. Gallery added: "It was not too difficult from the number of comments they put on Facebook. So it wasn't necessarily that we disagreed with the people. It's just that we were trying to push it and try something new, you know. It didn't work. We surrender to the people."
A month later, however, and with the inclusion of new designers, Carnival mas aficionados now loved the re-imagined lines that constitute Island People Mas 2012 portrayal Heroes. Consequently, the band was winning back the hearts of die-hard masqueraders who openly condemned its design team and their offerings. Taking advantage of the various social networks, Carnival enthusiasts blasted Island People Mas for delivering a collection that they considered to be both faulty and uninspiring. But when the band opened its Woodbrook mas camp earlier this month, Gallery was all smiles as potential masqueraders excitedly flocked to the bandhouse to witness the revived pieces. There, Gallery fielded compliments and was heartened that new works of mas posted in the social networking realm, too, were in receipt of rave reviews. Accepting that the band fell out of favour with masses, Gallery said, the team went through an introspective phase and began a process of analysing sentiments expressed by the public regardless of how bitter they were.
He denied that the band's on-line campaign which allowed people to vote for their favourite costumes immediately after the launch was two steps short of admitting failure. "No! It was the easiest way to figure out what the people want. It's just so cut and dry. And, that's the beauty of social networking now. All the companies now in the world utilise social networking sites to know what people like, to know what people want and Facebook is the number one place for that because everyone puts up on their page what they are interested in. I enjoyed it, personally, putting it out to the people. I think people enjoyed it, too," said Gallery.
Revellers with Island People Mas may likely play a pivotal role in determining what design concepts actually make it to the stage on premiere night during the pre-Carnival 2013, said Gallery. He said having survived the wrath of the mas consumers, the plan being considered was to explore realistic ways that the public could weigh in on the design process. "We have haters saying, hey, we got to give it to you all. You all did it and came back strong. You did something that kind of blends the lines between what we (Island People Mas) were doing and what they wanted," Gallery said.
Turning to the economic prospect of the band, he said registration was up, whether people used the pre-registration facility and the walk-in sign up. Gallery described as "super enthusiastic" the willingness of fun lovers to make their debut with Island People Mas during the National Carnival Bands Association Parade of Bands 2012. He said the returning masquerader rate was also up. "We got a call from a group of 40 people that signed up in another band after they saw our first set of costumes, and now they want to leave their deposits and come back and play with us," said Gallery, smiling.