Pelican graphic designer, Cheryl Conant, finds an important environmental message at Kendal Mountain Festival.
It’s usually pretty easy to find my friends in a crowd, just look for the bright, technical cagouls with helmet compatible hoods or the finest quality featherdown jackets patched up at the elbows with finger tape. Now take my small group of friends, multiply them by a thousand, drop them all upon one small town in The Lakes, and you get Kendal Mountain Festival.
As a designer at leading outdoor marketing agency Pelican and as someone who is often found drenched at the top of a hill or struggling at the base of a climbing problem; I attended Kendal Mountain Festival for both personal and professional reasons. This past weekend at the festival was three days packed of inspirational talks, awe inspiring films, the latest technologies in kit and gear, and many visits to the beer tent. Kendal Mountain Festival is a unique pilgrimage for those who worship the religion of the outdoors. This analogy may seem extreme, but it does truly sum up the common thread that tied all of these festival goers together.
The big headline films for this year’s festival didn’t disappoint. They left cinemas of 800 outdoor enthusiasts, myself included, in awe and wonder at the most extreme examples of the bond between man and nature that can drive the motivation behind incredible feats of strength, bravery and endurance. Despite these amazing films It was the less publicised, smaller films and talks that I found to have a strong common theme and the most ability to be inspiring for those of us that will never attempt even the easiest pitch on El Cap or be Heli-dropped by Red Bull onto a remote peak in Tajikistan. That common theme was a simple one, be an advocate for the environment in which you do what you love.
As outdoor enthusiasts it’s our responsibility to play an active part in protecting the environment. Cal Major showed this through her paddleboard expedition‘Paddle against plastics’campaign and professional climber Hazel Findlay made a similar statement with the short film ‘Free flow.’ The plastics problem isn’t something that’s happening someplace else or is somebody else’s responsibility to do something about, we all play a part in maintaining a sustainable environment.
On the kit side of things re-useables and eco-friendly products dominated the tents. People queued to have their clothing mended at the Patagonia stand and it wasn’t a rare sight to spot someone eating festival food with a camping fork they had brought with them. It makes me hopeful that these messages of environmental awareness are doing more than providing a platform for soapbox speeches.
This then led me to think about the marketing aspect of how brands simultaneously sustain growth and environmental initiatives. It seems to me that it’s about authenticity. In terms of selling product, Patagonia benefits in no way from mending not only their own clothing but the clothing of other brands as well, yet they do it because it demonstrates their “brand purpose” in a very real and immediate way. This action shows to Patagonia’s customers and sponsored athletes that they truly care about the sector that they are targeting. In turn, it teaches those who don’t care about these issues to start taking notice and to learn about why they should care.
Although the patrons of the Kendal Film Festival would be the people most likely to already be involved in sustainability efforts, I hope it is a small peek into changing attitudes of the general public and how small changes in our lives can have big environmental impact. I have no doubt that the films and talks presented last weekend will go on to inspire and create the next generation of outdoor lovers and instil a sense of protectiveness over our natural world.
Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment, food and drink, outdoor and leisure and packaging sectors and offers a range of services such as media relations, brand management, event management, design and people development. Contact us for marketing and communications expertise.