If you have ever gone to the beach or on a picnic, or taken a road trip, you’ve probably packed your lunch, snacks and cold drinks in some sort of foam cooler made of polystyrene and expanded polystyrene (EPS), a petroleum-based plastic.  Studies show that EPS is almost impossible to recycle since it will not breakdown for many years, and there is very little market for its reuse.  To make matters worse, they reveal that EPS products (coolers, coffee cups, etc.) fill up about a third of the landfill space around the world and when exposed to sunlight EPS creates harmful air and water pollutants which depletes the ozone layer, contaminates the ocean and waterways, and is a leading cause of death in marine life.

Igloo, which has been making ice chests since it created the first water cooler in 1947, has been paying close attention to the effects of global warming and environmental decay and to its own sales demographics.  It cites studies by the Nielsen and others showing that millennials are twice as likely than baby boomers to change their habits for reducing environmental impacts. In fact, millennials have, since 2014, grown sustainable product sales by nearly 20 percent and are expected to spend up to $600 billion per year by 2025 on environmentally friendly goods.


With that in mind, Igloo, after years of both primary and secondary research and working with its development team and Nielsen to provide statistics on the eco conscious consumer, last year introduced the world’s first eco-sensitive cooler made from 100 percent biodegradable materials.  Its RECOOL cooler, made in America of molded pulp, is strong enough to hold up to 75 pounds and won’t chip or break when bumped or dropped like commonly happens with foam coolers.

To introduce its new patent-pending cooler, Igloo instructed its award-winning public relations and marketing agency of record, Master Plan Communications (MPC) of Irvine, Calif. to plan and execute a nationwide, multi-media launch in April 2019.


After several planning meetings for the launch, MPC decided to propose a two-day double press event with major mainstream and green media invited to see first-hand how the RECOOL cooler contributes to a cleaner environment.  To verify Igloo’s claim that the RECOOL was biodegradable and consumer compostable, MPC wanted to help the media by conducting its own third-party test of the legitimacy of the consumer compostable aspect of the product.  Following the test, MPC formulated its key messages to relay to the media in attendance and in a multi-media news release, launch correspondence and the events were:

  • The product is made of biodegradable recycled paper and AKD (Alkyl ketene dimer)
  • Retail price: $9.99
  • Can hold up to 75 pounds and retain water up to five days; ice up to 12 hours
  • It’s reusable
  • It’s made in the U.S.
  • It’s an alternative to Styrofoam coolers, already banned in more than 100 U.S. cities

Event #1:  An intimate VIP experience at the Hotel Joaquin in Laguna Beach, California including a private dinner with David Allen, Igloo’s president/CEO.  During the first day, media members could either hike or enjoy a day at the beach while using the RECOOL in a practical setting.

Event #2:  A dinner the following day for all attendees at the ecology center in San Juan Capistrano. The evening included a feature presentation by Allen, interviews with star surfer Rob Machado and gifting of the RECOOL and swag bags.


Logistically, the plan was executed successfully and on-time within budget.  However, two major challenges arose prior to launch:

  1. News broke about a child who was playing hide and seek had become briefly trapped in an Igloo cooler, one of its models with a lid and latch, where he was hiding.  MPC immediately went into crisis communications mode, worked closely with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  The challenge was overcome when MPC and Igloo successfully issued a statement to the public, issued a recall on the latch and offered replacements for customers with the specific cooler model.
  2. Another key challenge, one faced by many public relations and events agencies in recent years, was securing media attendance at the Southern California venue.   In its efforts to invite the press and key influencers to the launch events, MPC learned that east coast media especially are reluctant and financially restrained from long-distance travel to cover stories.  However, despite the challenge, MPC managed to successfully attract several key media and influencer representatives to its Igloo launch event.

According to MPC expectations and, more importantly, Igloo’s level of satisfaction, the launch was a whopping success, from the standpoints of media attendance and coverage, and subsequent award recognition for the RECOOL product. For example:  More than 50 media and influencers attended the launch event, including Keep America Beautiful, Well + Good, The Manual, Magnetic Magazine, Rolling Stone, Playboy, ASN, Food + Wellness, Wild Ideas Living Podcast, REI Co-Op Journal, Gear Junkie and Heart’s Best Products.

Nationally and internationally, the RECOOL launch received positive coverage in most major media, including Popular Science, Gear Patrol, Adventure Sports Network, C/Net, Outside, Gear Junkie, Inventory (Gizmodo), Food & Wine, CookingLight, delish, Best Products, Martha Stewart, Cool Material, Better Homes & Gardens, Yahoo Lifestyle, Real Simple, Coastal Living, Uncrate, Woman’s Day, Simple Most, Good Magazine, Forbes, Geek.com and many more with print, online and broadcast impressions totaling more than 572 million.  According to MPC’s analytical research, the number of story placements surpassed 190 with a total estimated publicity value of $2.73 million.

Among the many awards won by Igloo for its unique RECOOL product were:

  • Best in Show – Gear Junkie
  • Top 100 Best Products of 2019 – Gear Patrol
  • Best Gear at Outdoor Retailer 2019 Summer Market – Business Insider
  • Top 100 Greatest Innovations of 2019 – Popular Science

“Master Plan Communications played a vital role in formulating the PR strategy and positioning of RECOOL within the media landscape. They were instrumental in the launch of the innovative RECOOL product, and exceeded our objectives during the campaign.  It was a pleasure to work alongside their team and we are proud of the results and impact the on-message PR placements have made for our organization.” – Brian Garofalow, VP of Marketing and Ecommerce.