With the state of the strong-wool industry costing farmers $100 million a year, the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust is on a mission with its bold new direction in education.
“It’s brutal out there on farm, farmers are losing money,” CFWNZ Trust business development manager Tom O’Sullivan said.
“Strong wool is costing NZ farmers $100m a year and they are being told to hang in there. They can only hang in for so long.”
The not-for-profit entity is focused on promoting wool as the material of choice for climate-conscious consumers wanting to reduce their carbon footprint via the materials they use to build and furnish their homes and the clothes they wear.
“Our mandate is education and awareness of wool,” O’Sullivan said.
“For the last 10 years, consumers have been obsessed with plastic and cheap synthetic alternatives.
“We are starting to see a movement from discerning consumers looking at the provenance of what they are buying.
“Our strategy is to shift people to buying wool by helping commercial entities produce cool wool-based products.”
CFWNZ has launched a new initiative to target consumers.
“It was time to mix it up and utilise the immense talents of our Hawke’s Bay-based marketing partners to create something more disruptive and super compelling,” CFWNZ general manager strategy Kara Biggs said.
The “Plastic. It’s not Fantastic – Live naturally. Choose wool” campaign currently spreading the word across New Zealand aims to promote wool products in the home.
“As a charity, we just didn’t have the budget to enlist the services of a big creative agency, so instead, it really came down to a brainstorm over a cup of coffee and some excellent local contacts to do the heavy lifting. We’re thrilled with the results,” Biggs said.
Three adverts were created in-house, highlighting either the benefits of wool’s warmth, its moisture-wicking properties or its proven fire retardancy. They feature the photographic talents of Richard Wood, design by Kylie Parish and copywriting from Contentment PR & Communications.
The adverts target consumers in the Kia Ora, North and South, Verve and NZ Life and Leisure magazines as well as some limited televised time, as a starting point on the limited budget.
“If we had better funding we could do more, but we’re spreading the word and pulling off what we can right now,” Biggs said.
“We have big ambitions but we are a charity with a very small amount of funding so we spend very carefully and we do a hell of a lot on a small budget.
“We encourage farmers to make themselves aware of what we are doing, ask their wool buyers if they support CFWNZ. We need to be driving all resources collaboratively with other industry organisations to – with urgency – change the strong wool story with a new longer-term structure and strategy,” O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan said things are starting to happen.
Companies making things out of plastics and synthetics are starting to inquire about whether there is a wool-based product they could use instead.
“The volume of interest is picking up. Businesses are seeing a threat from being aligned with petrochemical products.
“They don’t want to be tarnished because their products aren’t environmentally friendly.”
O’Sullivan believes strong wool has good opportunities in architecture, furnishings and interior design.
“I do believe there is a very bright future for NZ strong wool but with the industry at risk of being lost, we do need to act now and fast, and we need all farmers, industry and stakeholders pulling together in the same direction at the same time.
“All the noise from the bureaucrats’ decision over the carpet in schools has hopefully been a wake-up call in Wellington.
“What government did with the plastic carpets is hypocritical when they are pushing the green agenda so much for compliance on farm.
“This was an opportunity to help farmers. Instead it was a real kick in the guts,” he said.
“We will be vocal if they [the government] continue to behave like this.”