Icebreaker goes gubernatorial

13931_206250406100_18343191100_4385Here’s a conundrum for Icebreaker: does it leverage the publicity of having one of its garments featured on the cover of a major US magazine, or risk being associated with an Alaskan “whack job” (more commentary, here) who seems to love nothing more than slaughtering beasts, raping the land, praising the Lord and remaining ignorant about everything?

Icebreaker’s Lee Weinstein says it came as a surprise to the company to see Palin, who was photographed for Runner’s World magazine, wearing the long sleeve chase zip in salsa/silver on the cover of next week’s Newsweek (seems as though it came as a surprise to Runner’s World, too).

“It’s the first US magazine cover for our small New Zealand sustainable apparel company,” he says. “. . . It’s great Ms. Palin has discovered the benefits of running in natural, sustainable Icebreaker merino.”
Although, perhaps she just couldn’t get hold of a running top made from polar bear fur.

ib_logo_googlePalin and Icebreaker certainly make for an incongruous pairing. She doesn’t seem particularly fond of the environment (she does have shiny legs though), whereas Icebreaker trades on its natural, eco-credentials (it has recently been campaigning for US consumers to switch from synthetic running tops made from oil to natural fibres).

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So, is all publicity good publicity? Will an endorsement from a controversial figure like Palin affect Icebreaker’s reputation or add to its cachet in the US? And are Newsweek readers that don’t have a connection to Icebreaker or New Zealand likely to notice – or care – what kind of top she’s wearing?

Perhaps there’s a potential sponsorship opportunity here, like a more political, slightly more attractive version of long-distance alcoholic swimmer Martin Strel.

Orca founder and CEO Scott Unsworth saw the potential a few years ago and now, after the release of the documentary Big River Man, his strange sponsorship decision seems to have been vindicated.

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