130 Ice Block Expedition of 1959

The Idea:

The ice block expedition of 1959 was a publicity stunt carried out by the Norwegian insulation material producer Glassvatt. Responding to a challenge from the radio station Radio Luxembourg, Glassvatt decided to equip a truck to bring a three-ton block of ice from Mo i Rana by the Arctic Circle, to Libreville by the Equator. There was no form of refrigeration applied, and the expedition was intended to display the efficiency of the insulating glass wool used. The truck also brought 300 kg of medicines to the hospital of Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréné.

Executing the idea

The expedition then was followed by a worldwide press corps, and crowds of spectators gathered in various European cities along the route. Crossing the Sahara, where the truck repeatedly got stuck in the sand, proved both a dangerous and laborious task. Once the truck had made it through the desert, however, and reached its final destination, it was revealed that the ice block had lost only about 11% of its original weight. When the expedition reached its goal it generated much media attention for the company. It was called "the world's greatest publicity stunt".

The Outcome

To mark the 50th anniversary of the event in 2009, the company made the original documentary of the expedition available online. They also released a new interview with the expedition's leader Sivert Klevan, who was 84 years old at the time of the interview.

Holy Crap Thinking:

  • Absurdity gets Attention
  • Spontaneous Absurdity TED Talk (Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity)

Holy Crap Quote:

 “It's a perfectly wonderful way to spent a weekend afternoon, watching a football game in a stadium. But I think it's also a perfectly valid way to spend an afternoon freezing in place with 200 people in the Grand Central terminal or dressing up like a ghostbuster and running through the New York Public Library.

“You know, as kids, we're taught to play. And we're never given a reason why we should play. It's just acceptable that play is a good thing. And I think that's sort of the point of Improv Everywhere. It's that there is no point and that there doesn't have to be a point. We don't need a reason. As long as it's fun and it seems like it's going to be a funny idea and it seems like the people who witness it will also have a fun time, then that's enough for us. And I think, as adults, we need to learn that there's no right or wrong way to play.”

Charlie Todd TED Talk “The shared Experience of Absurdity”

Holy Crap Challenge:

Think Bigger: Consider the Absurd

Reach Higher: Go beyond “Why?” to Ask “Why Not?”

Do the Impossible: Or at least the Unthinkable

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