Walking the green talk

Three enterprising Kiwi blokes decided to skateboard across a South American desert. But the first thing they did was get their trip carboNZero certified.

Desert skateboarding and business. Did that get your attention? Good! Being different is exactly what brands need to be these days to get attention and generate an emotional connection with consumers. 

I recently returned (in one piece) from a longboard skateboarding journey through South America, crossing the Andes and Atacama Desert. It was an extremely tough, outrageous and rewarding adventure. We survived on biscuits for three days, pulled trucks over for water, endured dog attacks, dodged landmines and applied dirt as sunblock. It was a real adventure that tested us both physically and mentally, but also changed the way we view the world.

Throughout our journey we met several very generous and welcoming people who made our days skating endlessly longs roads seem worth it. Their generosity was very surprising ñ would you nourish and take in three foreigners on skateboards who smelt like the old camping gear you store in the garage? But we were so thankful for getting an occasional bed to sleep in share a few stories in patchy Spanish and hand gestures. 

So why such a trip and was my mother worried sick?

We had a goal of completing something that had never been attempted and was slightly (or completely) out of the box. We also wanted to raise bit of awareness about sustainable ways of travelling and we got our trip carboNZero certified to ensure we were walking the talk. 

However, the overall main aim was to have an adventure, make a few people smile and so we feel it is mission accomplished. 

And yes, Mum was worried, although I think she was under the impression that I was spending a month on the beach in Chile ... 

So what lessons are there to be learned for business?

With our trip we had a unique idea and took a calculated risk and I believe these are key ingredients that help create an exciting and memorable brand. Nowadays thereís a plethora of advertising clutter with every company trying to communicate their key benefits to you. It can all be quite overwhelming. 

I think people take more notice of companies that break the mould, have a worthwhile goal and demonstrate forward thinking leadership. 

Indubitably it is still important to be thoughtful with your messaging and have an underlying driver, but when a company is different and edgy, thatís when people take notice and can really make an emotional connection to your brand. I challenge you to take a leap of faith with your business.

 Alan Carnaby is an adventurer and marketing advisor for carboNZero Holdings. To see photos and videos of his trip in all their glory, visit

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