The masterminds behind the idea are two advertising aficionados, Scott Kelly and Ben Polkinghorne, who hail from New Zealand but are now based in London working on a range of art projects. The pair are notorious for their unique creations, saying, “We get off on having ideas and making them happen. We also believe in climate change and want to do what we can to help.”
Past creative ventures include ‘Signs of the Times,’ a series of giant signs in locations around New Zealand poking fun at collaborative filtering recommender algorithms; ‘Sole Impressions,’ an art project which saw the duo create imprints on a bunch of magnolia petals with 11 pairs of famous footwear; and ‘Bangerritos,’ a company that makes sausages which taste like burritos. Clearly, the pair do not shy away from experimentation.
Their latest venture is just as niche, using an ice-mould replica of Donald Trump’s head to raise money for climate change, claiming, “When it comes to global warming, Trump burying his head in the sand doesn’t help. Ironically, burying his head in the freezer will.” In order to mass-produce, there’s an ambitious crowdfunding campaign, which seeks to sell 5000 trays and raise over £20,000 for charity.
Kelly and Polkinghorne say the inspiration for the ice-head trays came from Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement in November 2017, the world’s best defence against global warming. “We thought it’d be funny if his little ice head melts. Turns out it is pretty funny. And we like that the ice-heads prove scientists around the world are correct: when the temperature raises, ice melts.”
Manufacturing the 100 percent recyclable, silicone ice-cube trays turned out to be a lot more complicated than the duo had expected, saying, “It’s taken six months to go from idea to execution and it was much, much harder than we’d ever anticipated. We thought we’d quickly and easily get 500 trays made on AliBaba, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.”
The individual moulds had the easiest process, initially being 3D printed and then set in food-grade silicone by Mackinnon and Saunders, the animation producers behind Bob the Builder, Fantastic Mr Fox and Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride. Mass-producing the trays, however, is more complicated. “We had 3D renders of the tray designed, so we could work out everything from the unit cost right through to shipping. If there’s enough demand for the trays, we’ll then get a custom metal tool made. This would pump out the individual trays in a fully certified Chinese factory. These would then be loaded onto a ship and delivered to us here in London, where we’ll then individually send them out.”
All profits raised from the Trump Trays project will go to the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), a charity committed to securing a world where natural habitats and environments can sustain, and be sustained by, the communities that depend upon them. Kelly and Polkinghorne chose to partner with EJF because their approach to climate change problems is original and fresh. “We also wanted a small, nimble charity as we felt our modest donation would go further.”
This is not the first time Trump’s image has been used (however unwittingly) in the fight against climate change. In March 2017, Trump Forest was founded, encouraging donations to plant trees in order to soak up the greenhouse gases that Trump threatens to bring back into the atmosphere. The aim? “To plant a global forest to offset Trump’s monumental stupidity,” and so far they have gathered enough supporters to pledge over 1.5 million trees.
So what is it about Trump’s persona that makes him such a marketable symbol? Kelly and Polkinghorne put it down to fame and prominence. “He’s world famous, and leader of the free world. Combine that with a fairly divisive character that’s never far from the headlines and he’s the gift (arguably) that just keeps on giving.” Whether ironically or genuinely, consumers love Trump products; you only have to look at the official ‘Make America Great Again’ caps to see how distinctive his symbolic presence has become.
To see this controversial symbol used for something that reverts its very essence is refreshing and hopeful. With serving suggestions like ‘The Trumptini,’ ‘Bloody Donald,’ and ‘Sex on the Disappearing Beach,’ Trump Trays are sure to be a hit with climate change activists or cocktail connoisseurs. Kelly and Polkinghorne have high hopes for the project, saying, “If we make people smile and sell out of the limited edition moulds, we’ll be happy. If we also successfully crowdfund the trays, we’ll be thrilled. If we do all that and make Donald Trump reconsider withdrawing America from the Paris Agreement, we’ll be over the moon.”
And if President Trump himself catches wind of the project?
“We’d like to think he’d invite us to the White House for a whisky.”