Icebreaker: where Mango meets merino

While all the talk in DDB land is about the big merge between Rapp and Tribal DDB, Mango Communications continues to blaze a rather successful trail and has managed to get hold of a wee beauty: the public relations account for Icebreaker in the New Zealand market.

Until this appointment, Icebreaker’s communications had been managed in house. But Icebreaker’s New Zealand marketing manager Alice Foote says it was time to work with an external agency.

“We’re expanding both our range and retail footprint in this market and, as a result, want to increase greater awareness of both. We chose Mango because we felt they really understood our needs. As well we were impressed by their ideas and thinking outside the square,” she says.

Much like 42 Below, Icebreaker grew its reputation through good PR, hard graft, instore marketing and good old fashioned flesh pressing on the shop floor. In fact, founder and chief executive Jeremy Moon says it doesn’t actually advertise and still relies heavily on PR (and the occasional PR stunt like this one) to maintain that reputation and spread the merino gospel to the dirty plastic wearers.

Launched in 1994, Icebreaker had to fight against the tide at the time and convince buyers that natural merino fibre was a better option than synthetics. The wool was sourced directly from the growers and in 2008 the company launched Icebreaker Baacode, which enables owners to trace their garment online, from the rearing of the sheep through to each stage of the supply chain process.

Mango will initially work with the Icebreaker team to launch its spring/summer range of garments, which includes new running and cycling specialty lines, as well as an expanded range of lifestyle fashion items.

Given almost every single person in New Zealand seems to have an Icebreaker item, it’s a bit of a dream gig. And Mango’s managing director Claudia Macdonald says the team is looking forward to nuzzling in close to Icebreaker’s woolly embrace.

“It’s one of those brands as a PR person you always want to work with. It’s a Kiwi success story that has everything going for it. We’re honored to be chosen.”

And in other exciting Mango developments, the Cadbury Billboards to Bags campaign has finished up its message collection phase, collecting thousands of supportive quips for the 2010 New Zealand Commonwealth Games team during its nationwide journey.

21 billboards have now gone up across the country for Kiwis to view throughout August, after which they will be recycled into satchels for each Commonwealth Games athlete to carry with them in Delhi.

Kiwis who weren’t able to make it to one of the tour locations can sign their message of support on a ‘virtual billboard’ hosted online at www.cadburygames.co.nz.

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