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It’s Easy Being Green: Hydro Connect shows going green can be cost effective November 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music.


Due to increased awareness of global warming in the Twenty-First Century, the theories and practices of sustainable living have achieved exponential growth in Great Britain. Environmentally Friendly Practices (EFPs) include the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), alternative energy (solar, wind, water), and the overarching goal of going Carbon Neutral (eliminating or offsetting carbon dioxide emissions) in order to better maintain our natural environment. (Brassington 2008)

EFPs are emerging in all industries, including the ever-shifting music industry, where, in 2007, DF Concerts launched Connect Festival at Inverary Castle, Argyle, a major music festival dedicated to carbon neutrality. (DF Concerts 2008)

As emerging festivals are increasingly committed to sustainability, Connect is learning the challenges and opportunities associated with going green. By mastering change management in the areas of transport, vendors and marketing, DF Concerts is finding that an environmentally sustainable music festival can also be economically sustainable.

Greener Strategies

Transport at large-scale music festivals presents a considerable customer-relations challenge. An attendee’s lasting impression can often be the long walk to the distant carpark, followed by an hour spent queuing in his/her car to get out. Likewise, transport is a music festival’s single largest contributor of carbon emissions. (Fennell 2008)

By smoothly marketing mass transport as an integral part of the Connect experience, DF Concerts CEO Geoff Ellis improved customer relations while cutting down significantly on pollution. When purchasing tickets, attendees were strongly encouraged to purchase a seat on a coach which would pick them up from one of 35 different locations and deliver them much closer to the actual staging area than the carpark. (Woolman 2008)

The consumer benefits of this scheme include cost savings (the price of the coach was less than the petrol required to drive to Connect), added freedom (the ability to eat and drink on the bus without worrying about driving and following directions to the remote location), increased safety (a professional driver navigates windy highland roads), and the opportunity to socialise. The positive feelings associated with the coach ride were so strong that passengers, consuming food and drink, meeting their fellow festival-goers and enjoying the highland scenery, maintained amiable notions of the festival organisation despite a two-hour bus delay.

The organisational benefits of the coach scheme include cost savings (fewer car-parks to maintain), organisational freedom (due to decreased traffic), greater insurance (less possibility of dangerous driving) and less pollution both in the air (carbon emissions) and on the ground (terrain disruption). Greener travel options, then, has created a happier experience for all stakeholders while providing cost savings.

In Ecotourism, sustainability measures not only environmental impact, but also impact on local economies and cultures. (ecotourism 2008) Connect provided Loch Fyne Oysters and Loch Fyne Whiskies prominent locations, superior facilities, and free publicity in all official marketing, thus emphasizing local product as a core element of the festival. Local vendors save funds on travel and shipping costs while using less carbon dioxide than vendor carts from out of town. Such a gesture endears Connect to the locals of Inverary, thus positively impacting the culture. By creating a strong, public relationship with the Duke of Argyle, Ellis cemented Connect’s bond with the local culture. (DF Concerts 2008)

A legitimate carbon neutral policy does wonders for an organisation’s public image. In patronising Connect, attendees feel they are supporting sustainable living and making the world a better place. They achieve self-actualisation, what Abraham Maslow coined in 1943 as the greatest in his hierarchy of human needs and that which arts managers have since adopted as a cornerstone in arts marketing. (Byrnes 2003) Indeed, green self-actualisation drives all stakeholders to support Connect: consumers to attend, staff to work hard, vendors to participate, sponsors to invest, government to support and even bands to perform (Radiohead now requires carbon neutral initiatives in their riders). (Fisher 2008)

The danger is that Connect’s feel-good image will be exposed as “greenwash,” or marketing which falsely paints an organisation green. (Brassington 2008) A rough comparative analysis shows that Connect uses far more EFPs than similar events, while recognising that carbon neutrality is difficult to measure and an often contested concept. Connect uses carbon offsetting, a process which some detractors categorise as greenwash, but which no less is a charitable investment on the part of DF Concerts.

Ellis has eschewed the greenwash threat with careful, honest marketing. Instead of over-promising unattainable green outcomes, he emphasizes the significant green inputs unique to Connect. He humbly confesses that “The greenest festival is the one that doesn’t happen, but at least you can try.” (Woolman 2008)

Perhaps Connect’s greenest outcome is the audience, who are constantly educated about how they can make a difference. In 2008, Connect became Hydro Connect after securing a lucrative sponsorship from Scottish Hydro, the UK’s leading supplier of green energy. The sponsor’s recognition online, in print and at the festival was carefully tailored to first educate consumers on green alternatives and second promote both Connect and Scottish Hydro. DF Concerts, whose flagship festival T in the Park is limited by a much more conservative sponsor, has been very creative with Scottish Hydro in maintaining a mature marketing plan aimed at their media-savvy, educated, humanitarian demographic.


Through innovative approaches to sponsorship, marketing, local product, transport, and other aspects too numerous to mention here, DF Concerts has exhibited effective change management in the organising of Connect Festival, proving that a major green festival is a feasible business venture. Connect has proven to be economically and environmentally sustainable, and can stand as an inspiration to others in the industry.


Burt, Kate. 2007. How one festival this summer will be getting into an eco-friendly groove. The Independent, May 17.

Byrnes, William J. 2003. Management and the Arts. 3rd Edition. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

Fisher, Alice. 2008. Hello Glastonbury! Are you ready to rock and recycle? The Observer, June 8, p.13.

Fennell, David. 2008. ecotourism. New York: Routledge.

Hasted, Nick. 2008. Going green on the festival scene. The Independent, March 7.

Woolman, Natalie. 2008. Hydro Connect Festival – Eco-friendly. The List, August 21.

DF Concerts. [online] Available from: http://www.dfconcerts.com [Accessed October 26, 2008]

Should UK Music Festival Organisers Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices into Event Management? 2008. A Greener Festival. [online] Buckingham Chilterns University College. Available from: http://www.agreenerfestival.com. [Accessed October 26, 2008]. Figure 1: Grow your own! Connect sees the flowering of three organic initiatives.



1. Mark (Solar Power) Hamilton - November 10, 2008

I agree there are many benefits of going green. Not only to the environment but to our pocket books. However the “green industry” like any other is also subject to profiteering so it is wise to do our research. A great, well researched article by the way.

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