Last month, Paris-based events organiser We Love Art held We Love Green, an ecologically-themed festival in the city’s picturesque Parc de Bagatelle. Besides its outstanding line-up – Metronomy, Of Montreal, Selah Sue and Pete Doherty – the festival’s aim above all was to be as green as possible.
As such, all of its installations were recyclable; toilets were organic; access via public transport and bicycle was strongly encouraged; and partners set up stands to raise green awareness, with features like fixed bikes to recharge festival-goers’ mobile phones (below).
20% of the festival’s financing came from private sector sponsors; principally from US shoe and clothing brand and main sponsor Timberland. As such, its logo was naturally everywhere. But as Anthony Bunn, the firm’s country manager for France explained to midemblog, this was just the tip of the iceberg. The festival was above all a perfect fit with Timberland’s ecological focus – notably that of its Earthkeepers brand – so Timberland positioned itself as a partner, rather than an over-visible patron.
> midemblog: Why did Timberland choose to partner with a music event inparticular?
Anthony Bunn: We’ve always been involved with artists and with several kinds of cultural events – including the Sundance Festival last year. Timberland UK was also the main partner in a green-focused music festival recently.
Music, of course, is something that touches everybody. You can sing your ideas, you can sing some strong, powerful words that can make the world change. If you want to say ‘save the planet’, singing that is probably the best way you can do it.
So we definitely think that music is part of our culture, and being involved in this really important part of our lives is something that seems truly logical. So if we can be linked to this, we’re truly happy.
> Did you deliberately choose something a bit different, as opposed to a mainstream event?
“We love green” is perfect for us, with its ecological and sociological aspect. We have a brand called Earthkeepers, which accounts for some of our best sales. They’re products like shoes which are recycled up to 80%. It’s something we’re proud to be promoting, and it’s totally aligned with We Love Green. It’s not just music, but several concepts that people are showing here, through this festival.
> Would you agree the relationship between music and brands is evolving towards something more engaging than simple branding?
It’s a global picture, one with strong involvement and ideas, and the notion that people are really doing things. In the back of this whole (festival) process there’s a lot of common thoughts. It’s not just putting logos on, it’s the whole concept of the festival. Using recycled material to set up the stages and stands, the organisation, encouraging people to come on bikes and via carpooling… It’s a whole concept. So yes, today it’s true that brands want to have something more in-depth. There is a big change.
> Besides getting your green message across, do you get involved in choosing the artists, for example?
No. We were already aware of the line-up and we felt it was aligned with the green concept. We have not decided on the line-up, but we really like it. I don’t know if these artists are involved in green thinking, but I hope so!
> Some musicians or festival organisers may be worried that brands may start telling them what to do…
The organisers did what they wanted to do, we weren’t involved in that (artistic side). We let people do their jobs. That’s not our job. We wanted to be linked to this because we respected their way of working on the festival, so we just followed the leader, basically.
> What do you think of the notion that brands are the new patrons of arts?
It’s a tough question. I can only speak for Timberland but we’re not focusing just on fashion: we’re an authentic outdoor brand. I just see the commonality we have with people who organise concerts, or similar cultural events. As long as the relationship between music and brands is clean and respectful, then it’s good for everybody. If we can bring some means and help make things happen, fine. We just need to let the artists exploit what they want to, and be natural.
www.welovegreen.fr (in French)
& below: a video interview with We Love Art’s Marie Sabot (in French), with extracts of Metronomy’s fabulous live performance