Is Happy Feet NZ Mascot Material?

He’s already wearing a black jersey, yet with no adidas stripes or Nike swoosh.  He made an epic journey against all odds to be here, is adorable and has captured hearts worldwide.  A natural for a Rugby World Cup mascot surely – and with no embarrassing marketing associated with him. Yes, Happy Feet is as pure as the snow he thought he was eating when he was really eating sand last month, and as far as we can tell this penguin has not yet been tainted by the corporate world.  So now as told to the Penguin Post an online campaign to make New Zealand’s highest profile and possibly most-beloved guest, a Rugby World Cup ambassador has been launched. However the people behind the light-hearted Facebook page “Make Happy Feet the Grassroots Ambassador for New Zealand” may not see their wish fulfilled, with the emperor penguin just given the all-clear to continue his journey to his Antarctic home. He has spent more than a month recuperating at Wellington Zoo but after weeks of delighting hundreds of visitors, and with media keeping us informed up to the minute on his progress, it is almost time to say goodbye. The penguin is due to leave in a specially designed cage aboard a research vessel leaving on August 29. The person credited with the idea to promote Happy Feet to official Rugby World Cup mascot seems to have been an 85-year-old named Jack – his idea born out of frustration with a number of high-profile campaigns from adidas and Telecom that have caused much embarrassment for New Zealand’s reputation overseas.

The Facebook page has attracted almost 300 supporters, including Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, broadcaster Sean Plunket, media man Bill Ralston and right-wing blogger David Farrar. The creator of the page has written that Happy Feet is the “perfect symbol for what NZ is about – welcoming and all embracing hospitality”. “Happy Feet came to our shores, not feeling so great – we showed him kindness and hospitality and welcomed him with open arms. “This is a marketing concept that will sell NZ in a positive way for the guest experience of NZ. How we pick you up off the beach, give you kindness and the best care, and send you off a happier penguin. He’s a clean, green symbol of New Zealand and our people, our welcoming and friendly nature and our all embracing hospitality.” It seems the idea has caught the imagination of those on the page, with many comments left saying Happy Feet would make a better ambassador than some who have been chosen. Dorothy Macedo said Happy Feet was “not a public embarrassment unlike some other world cup ambassadors”. Judith Price wrote that he “certainly made a huge effort to get here on time and arrived suitably attired”.

Will Happy Feet Represent New Zealand?


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