Marketing Glastonbury - 081203

This Mind your Business article looks at the marketing of the Glastonbury Festival

Mind your Business - 08 December 2003

Marketing the Glastonbury Festival

The News

Glastonbury Festival:
It is the most famous music festival in the world, clearly overtaking Woodstock and the Isle of Wight. Last year's 115,000 tickets (the festival has a licence to hold 140,000 people but some of these are passes for artists, support staff and so on) sold out within 18 hours of going on sale and the news that Mendip District Council have granted the owner of Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset an entertainment licence to hold the event in 2004 will be greeted with a sigh of relief by all those for whom the summer would not be the same without their three days of music, fun, social gathering and sheer escapism. So why does the Glastonbury Festival need to indulge in marketing? Surely marketing is about advertising to sell more products? Clearly this is not the case.

The Glastonbury Festival began in 1970. One and a half thousand people paid £1 - including free milk, to attend to see the likes of Mark Bolan of T Rex fame and Quintessence. Since that time, the festival has gone through a huge number of changes to become a mammoth undertaking requiring year round planning and execution. It can be argued that the Festival has become a victim of its own success; demand for tickets is so great that within hours of them going on sale for 2003, enterprising souls had put their prized possession on e-bay and bids were in excess of £900 for a £100 ticket. The organisers view such enterprise very dimly - Glastonbury has got a spiritual side not always recognised in modern business.

One of its biggest problems has been those seeking to gain entry to the site without a ticket. Attempts to increase security often failed and in 2000 the number of people attending was far in excess of the licence and the founder of the festival, Michael Eavis was fined. The event was now in danger of imploding; the local community and the police all had serious concerns about the potential for serious problems arising because of the number of people at the site and the ability of the organisers to manage such numbers.

Each year, the organisers have to apply for an entertainment licence from Mendip District Council. In 2001 it was decided to cancel the festival given that the likelihood of gaining a licence seemed slim without improved security measures to clamp down on gate crashers. 2002 was more successful in this respect but there were still too many illegal entrants for the local council's liking and there were tense moments in 2003 before Michael Eavis finally managed to convince the planners that their concerns had been met effectively. Investment in a £1 million security fence around the site was the centrepiece of attempts to ensure that only those with a ticket got into the site. What was really needed though was a change to the mentality that Glastonbury was an easy place to get in free and this is where the marketing strategy came in.

The aim of the marketing strategy was to drive home the idea that only those who had tickets would gain access to the site. The strategy aimed to achieve this through giving out two main messages - one aimed at making it quite clear that the security had been significantly improved and the other attempted to use the social responsibility angle to change the behaviour of those who might be tempted to secure illegal access. This latter point goes back to the fact that a substantial amount of the revenue generated at the Festival goes to charities around the world.

Glastonbury as a business relies on a great many partners involved in the staging of the event. The organisers have gone some way towards ensuring that the event does not have any overt commercialism.

"Although we get a huge number of companies wanting to be involved, we are not open to sponsors in the same way other events are. We could make millions but we choose not to, and we never will. We would rather not have the festival.We don't allow any branding on site - Orange, for instance, removes all its logos - and we try to make sure sponsors are giving something back to the people at the festival. Any involvement is low-key rather than in-your-face. It's better from a marketing point of view because, in this environment, overbranding would work against you. The people who come here are very media-savvy and don't like to be told what to buy."

Source of quote: the festival's commercial manager Hannah Rossmorris accessed via and reproduced with permission.

It is quite clear from this example how marketing encompasses a far broader scope than merely advertising!


Marketing is defined as the process by which firms seek to identify and predict the wants and needs of consumers and meet that need by the provision of relevant goods and services at a profit that will satisfy the key stakeholders. At the heart of marketing are the business's objectives. These objectives can be broad in nature or relatively specific. For example, some firms may decide that the focus of their marketing activity in the coming year will be to break into an overseas market, to boost the sales of a specific brand or to develop the business so as to boost shareholder value. Whatever those objectives, the marketing strategy is geared to help the business to achieve its objectives. The marketing function is very much a philosophy rather than a particular action. In the case of Glastonbury Festival Limited, there is a very strong sense of social responsibility that has run throughout the history of the event. This social responsibility has to be communicated and embraced by all those who become associated with the event as exemplified in the quote from the festival's commercial manager.

Once the objectives have been set, the strategy can be devised to help best meet those objectives. This will almost certainly involve some or all of the so called 'Ps' - some textbooks prefer to give 4, others give 7. The business will have to consider how to manage the price, product, promotion, place, people, packaging and process if they are to satisfy consumer needs and make a profit while achieving its objectives.

Once the strategy is in place the business will be constantly evaluating the success of the strategy in meeting its objectives. This may be through further market research of some description - focus groups, user surveys and so on. The data from this research allows the company to evaluate the success of its strategy and, if necessary, introduce changes to make the strategy more successful. The term 'process' in the definition intentionally highlights the continuous cycle of developing strategies, monitoring and evaluating them and the re-development that will always be in progress.

The Marketing Process


Read the Glastonbury Festival Marketing Plan [PDF, 93 KB].

Using the marketing process diagram above as a basis for your analysis, discuss the marketing strategy employed by Glastonbury Festival Limited and comment on the factors that have influenced this strategy.

Related Web sites for research

Glastonbury Festival's Marketing Strategy [PDF, 93 KB] and - list of contacts and information for all things Glastonbury - BBC news article on the granting of licences for the 2003 event plus other related links,6729,744871,00.html - The Guardian - one of the sponsors of the festival - net notes and links to other articles.

Mark Scheme

The question is very open ended - by this we mean that there is little in the question that might guide you towards some form of structure so you will have to think carefully about the best approach. This involves planning your answer. When planning, think about ensuring that your answer is logical - each paragraph follows from the other, that it has an order to it and that you present your argument in a coherent manner. Thinking it through beforehand is very important - it helps to avoid irrelevances and your points jumping from one thing to another, apparently unrelated as you think of them!

The basis of your answer is the marketing process diagram, this is the clue in the question about the structure you can use. At the outset, it is always a good idea to give a clear definition to demonstrate that you understand what marketing actually is! Once you have given this, you need to offer a brief introduction to the context of the question - in this case the Glastonbury Festival. This is not an excuse to give a three page essay about the wonderful time you had at last year's festival! The contextual explanation will involve a very brief history of the festival and the type of market that the festival attracts.

Your answer must be rooted in an understanding of the business issues surrounding the subject matter. Explain what the strategy adopted by the organisers was; what were the business objectives? What influence on the strategy did the philosophy of the company have (if any)? What was the key objective of the strategy and why was this objective so important to achieve? How did the business seek to communicate the strategy - who did they have to involve for example? The strategy talks about the target market being mostly from the South West of England - how did this information influence how the strategy was developed? What types of media did the company aim to use to communicate the message and why would they use that particular media?

If you seek to try to address some or all of these questions you will be on the way towards producing a coherent response - remember to use appropriate terminology where possible and to think about what order you might need to address these issues. You can then finish off by incorporating a paragraph commenting on the success of the strategy - the other links to news items about the festival may help you in this respect. You might also offer a comment on what might need to be done to further develop the strategy since it makes it clear that the strategy was for 2002 and beyond!