Mastering Boardmasters

September 30, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

This summer, just hours before the gates were due to open, the ever-popular Boardmasters Festival was cancelled due to severe weather warnings. It was a big blow (sorry for the pun!) to Spring and our client, Hydro Flask, who had exciting plans for the surfing and music event.

So how do you turn news like this into a positive result for your client? Our very own event-extraordinaire, Abbie, was on hand to make sure it was a success.

Why did you choose to attend the Boardmasters event on behalf of Spring?

“We attended Boardmasters because vacuum insulated drinking bottle brand, Hydro Flask, is becoming super popular with the surf market, no doubt thanks to the fact Hydro Flask sponsor the World Surf League in the USA. Attending Boardmasters, a festival which celebrates surf and music, was the perfect way to target those consumers.”

What were your plans for the event?

“Our biggest pull was the fact we were giving away a massive 400 bottles over the weekend through our ‘beer pong’ game. The queue to play the game was never-ending! On top of this, we were selling on the stand and we also offered MyHydro for the first time in Europe, which allows consumers to personalise their bottle with a different colour lid, strap and boot.”

How much time and effort had you put into your planning?

“Attending large events, especially for the first time, always takes a lot of planning. We started preparing for Boardmasters a year in advance (August 2018) and then preparation was continuous from then until the actual event in August 2019. Time spent planning increased in the final months prior.”

How did you find out about the cancellation news?

“We found out about the cancellation in the middle of the night after receiving an email from the Boardmasters team. Strangely though, we’d actually heard from a hotel concierge that they were going to cancel the day before it was announced due to the impending weather but brushed this off as a rumour. Little did we know…”

What was your first reaction…and then your second!?

“Sh*t! was my first. My second was a mash-up of thoughts about my next steps: phone the volunteer staff, let the UK sales agent, Matt, know, get in contact with our van driver to see if he can come early… It was definitely a moment of sheer panic! Thankfully, I’d just taken up yoga so took a deep breath, did a forward fold and let Leonie from Hydro Flask in Swizterland know (who had also come over to help) before making calls. Once we were up and dressed, we headed down to the festival site to find out what was going on.”

How did your prior planning help you to react positively?

“Everything was very organised, from saving phone numbers to having a Gantt chart with all the details of the festival on which it made it really easy to give people the heads up. I think it’s fine to have a moment of complete panic so long as you can pull yourself together and get on with it afterwards.”

How did your plans change?

“The music festival was cancelled completely but the Fistral Beach site, where Hydro Flask was positioned, was opened on the Wednesday and Thursday – then closed Friday until Sunday. We made the most of the two days at the Fistral Beach site and had what the organisers called ‘the busiest stand at the festival’.”What did you get out of the day in the end?

“We met with lots of really great consumers, saw some awesome surfers and also made connections with other brands who attended the event. We had huge queues of people lining up to play our beer pong game and we even got rid of 200 Hydro Flask bottles per day! It was a really successful event for the two days that we were there, and we loved every minute of it.  The sun shone for the first two days with the storm hitting at 5 pm on Thursday night – just as we were packing down.”

Would you go again? “One million per cent.”


Aquapac to the Max

September 30, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

Aquapac, innovators of waterproof cases and bags has welcomed back Massimo (Max) Malavasi, one of the Company’s original founders.  His return as Co-CEO coincides with the re-appointment of Spring PR to handle the PR for the brand in the UK.  One of Spring’s tasks is to support Aquapac with the relaunch of the brand’s website and provide content for a new blog entitled The Expert Centre.

We wanted to find out what brought Max back and where he sees the future of waterproofing…

As one of the original founders of Aquapac, where did your inspiration come from to launch the Company?

“Two friends of mine had an idea to waterproof a Walkman (remember those?) when they first came out in 1982. We were in our early 20s, keen windsurfers and one of them asked me if I wanted to start up a company. Listening to music while you windsurf? ‘What an amazing idea!’, I thought. It was a lightbulb moment. 

“We took a very basic prototype made of wood and polythene and developed it. We sold it to Boots and Currys but they didn’t sell through as the design wasn’t good enough, even though it worked. 

“It did lead us to exhibiting at the London Boat Show in 1984. There, our first successful product emerged; a hand-held VHF radio which we still sell today in lots of different versions. When Sony launched the waterproof Walkman several years later we knew our idea was vindicated.”

What has brought you back to Aquapac?

“I left the Company in 1999 after running it for 16 years. I was tired and needed a change. I sold most of my shares (but kept 10%) to my successor in 2005. He decided to retire this year and I felt there was unfinished business. We bought him out and now wish to fulfil the potential of Aquapac.” 

How has the Company changed and developed in the time you were away?

“The team here at Aquapac have done a lot of good work, many of whom have been here for 20 years plus. The main changes are the width and scope of the 

product range. We have a wide range of waterproof cases and bags including duffles, rucksacks, daysacks and totes. I’m still getting my head around the whole range!

“Our core business is still 100% waterproof cases for phones, VHFs, tablets, cameras. We have also branched out more into specialised cases for the TV and film industry as well as some medical products. 

 “When we launched the Aquapac range in 1994, we were pioneers. There was really only one other company globally which we competed with and they were only focused on waterproofing cameras.  I have come back in 2019 and we have over 40 imitators and competitors. We have spawned a whole mini-industry.”

What are your hopes for the future of the Company and are these different from the original aspirations?

“We believe we have a great brand in Aquapac and it’s hard to think it’s been 36 years since launching. We are working on a number of new projects and 2020 will hopefully be an interesting year for the Company as we plan to launch about 20 new products.

“We want to make even better products which are both more practical and sustainable from design to materials to manufacture and for use by our customers. Bottom line is we want to satisfy our customers more and be more respectful of our planet. Our cases are designed to be used again and again.

“Next year will see also a whole new professional range of products. We have always been originators and pioneers and that’s what we intend to keep doing. Our mission is to find new solutions, make quality products and treat our customers well.”

What’s your favourite way to pass time on the water?

“I’m a bit older now but I like dinghy sailing and also sailing with some of my friends who own yachts. I whitewater-rafted again after a long time this summer which was a blast. I can see myself getting into kayaking and I’d like to explore some coastlines, especially around Cornwall and Scotland.”

What’s your favourite Aquapac product and why?

“Our VHF cases. Our first one was created back in 1984 and called the AQ2. It was our second-ever product and is now a family of products.

“In September 1982, I went windsurfing in Morocco with friends. I was swept out to sea when the wind changed 180 degrees and started to blow a gale. My friends swam out to help me, one successfully, but we couldn’t get back to shore due to the strong wind and current. We were at sea for 6 hours and blown about 7 miles out in a huge swell. We were terrified as there were no boats or anyone around so I began to despair. A ship carrying butane called the Butacuatro from Bilbao in Northern Spain, on its way to the Canary Islands, passed just 200 m away and stopped to save our lives.

“We were lucky, very lucky. It only twigged in late 1984 that what I needed was a hand-held VHF radio in an AQ2 to call for help that day. That’s why these cases have always been special to me. In 1988, a yacht owner came up to me at the London Boat Show and said our cases had saved his life when his boat capsized. I have heard that a number of times over the years.”

Have you ever dropped your phone down the toilet?!

“I dropped my phone down a toilet only two years ago. That was expensive! Otherwise, I am lucky enough to have a pretty good collection of Aquapacs, so this doesn’t happen very often. I’ve taken photos with Aquapacs on the Barrier Reef, in the Alps and lots of amazing places. Lots of great memories.”

LifeStraw: Doing Well By Doing Good

September 25, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

Spring client, LifeStraw, has been distributing aid to Hurricane Dorian victims. Managing Director, Alison Hill, personally travelled out to the Bahamas as the water situation began to look dire for those living there. Dorian is said to have been the most powerful tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas, and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. LifeStraw will be providing lifesaving filters to the communities in need giving them access to clean drinking water.

This work is in addition to LifeStraw’s Give Back programme – where for every product purchased, LifeStraw provides safe water for an entire school year. It’s a project implemented directly by LifeStraw. By the end of 2019 LifeStraw will have provided one year of safe drinking water to more than 3.3 million students, helped 1870 schools and delivered 12,220 water filters.

LifeStraw Home is their newest product to hit UK shelves in January next year. The Home is a water pitcher that you fill up with tap water, stick in your fridge and it’ll filter all the baddies out (microplastics, bacteria, parasites, heavy metals) but keep the goodies such as potassium, sodium. 


Did you know that we could be ingesting five grams of plastic every week because of polluted water. A recent study commissioned by the WWF entitled ‘No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People’ was carried out by the University of Newcastle in Australia. It suggests people are consuming around 2,000 tiny plastic particles each week – adding up to approximately 250 grams a year. With the largest source coming from drinking water.   

You can donate to LifeStraw’s Hurricane Dorian fund by heading to their website https://www.lifestraw.com.

“Outdoor Is Everything That You Do When You’re Not Indoor” – Introducing Tech-Causal

July 19, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

At this year’s OutDoor by ISPO change was in the air, down the aisles and along the rails. But, this time, we’re not on about the new location.

Spring’s Stephanie says: “For the first time we noticed a real change in the offering of outdoor brands. It’s something that’s been creeping up on us but, seeing it in the flesh at a trade show, has made it very real”.

What are we talking about? Well, we’ve had “athleisure”, now meet “tech-casual”.

What is tech-casual?
The European culture change towards a much more informal workwear wardrobe combined with our growing attitude towards flexi-working and love for active outdoor weekends has led to younger consumers demanding clothes which work across multiple occasions, at different times. Apparel that technically functions no matter what the day throws at you or where it takes you. This is accompanied by an emphasis on premium fabrics and features and a desire to buy fewer, better clothes which last longer.

Who’s at the forefront?

The change is being led by fabric innovators, like Spring client Polartec, who exhibited at this year’s OutDoor By ISPO. As Polartec CEO Gary Smith told trade magazine Outdoori at OutDoor by ISPO: “Young people have grown up with technical efficiency and now the expectation is that their apparel not only has to look good, but it’s got to work – work in an active setting and a lifestyle setting too. You can’t just sell something on status anymore and charge a premium price. It’s got to work.

“What we’re seeing is the coming together of outdoor, sport, athletic, urban and fashion – there are no lines anymore. Most department stores don’t separate high end and sport now. Boundaries are over. Outdoor is everything that you do when you’re not indoor.”

What this means is that our obsession with wearable tech is becoming so ingrained that we’re expecting our clothes to be as capable as our phones, watches, gadgets and gizmos. But more than that, we’re expecting clothes with a conscience; not only do we want it to work, but it should work without impacting the environment. An environment we all want to spend more time in.

Polartec has most recently released Power Air: a fabric which encapsulates lofted fibres within a multilayer, continuous yarn fabric construction. It’s a revolutionary new material offering advanced thermal efficiency that is proven to shed five times less than other premium mid-layer weight fabrics. It’s just one element of their Eco-Engineering initiative which sets a new standard for sustainable textiles – including the creation of the world’s first fully recycled and biodegradable fleece, other knits, insulation fills and breathable waterproof fabrics.

“If you look at the consumer, they are wearing athletic and outdoor brands and it’s about what their apparel does for them: they want it to keep them warm dry safe and cool. In a nutshell it needs to work but it also needs to look good, feel good and be versatile. As the newer generation takes over there’s an expectation of sustainability. Ultimately the most sustainable product you can make is the one that lasts a long time.”

It’s that younger consumer who the most innovative brands are looking towards; they’re the ones who are changing the field. Not defining outdoor brands by being just for cyclists or walkers but instead focusing on the features, the tech, the extras offered by each brand.

“Many brands are getting super interested by tech fabrics.” Says Gary Smith. “Aesthetics are no longer the only important selling point in the clothes we buy. We expect our clothing to do something for us too.

 “The expectation for things to work are high. When the new generation buys something, they expect it to work. All the non-technical brands are waking up to the fact that they need technical components. Upcoming generations of designers will never go back to the cotton domination. This is not a phase.”

Look out for brands including 66 North, Diadora, 8Js, Bleed, Magnethik, Bon Geulle, Moncler and Banana Republic who all use Polartec fabrics.

OutDoor by ISPO Round Up

July 19, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

#TeamSpringOnTour

July is one of the biggest months in our industry for trade events. For the first time, ISPO moved locations from Friedrichshafen to Munich and was renamed ‘OutDoor by ISPO’. According to Jo, it was “hot, hot, hot! We won’t be packing our jeans next year”.

Did Munich work?

Although the show appeared busy, we were under the impression that there were fewer people than normal, “As a new show it was quieter than past events in Friedrichshafen; but then some brands were perhaps being cautious and not committing to the first one in order to check it out and make a decision for next year.”

But Stephanie ponders whether it was an illusion, “I wonder if it was because the halls are bigger and the walkways between a lot wider. I believe the attendance figures were similar to last year, but because the space is configured differently it felt emptier. 

It’s a thought mirrored by Outdoori journalist, Peter Luscombe, who was impressed by the planning and layout of the halls with their open aspect and wide spaces resulting in a “much more productive atmosphere” with the feeling of a “shared event rather than a succession of meetings”.

“Saying that”, adds Stephanie, “there were definitely fewer journalists flying out. Based on our records, media attendance was down 30 per cent – which could be explained by OTS in Manchester being a week later.” 

New style ‘hubs’ became informal breakout areas where people could mingle, network and learn. Spring client, Nikwax, discussed sustainability at the CSR hub and AKU talked about sustainability in footwear at the Sustainability Kiosk in Hall A5.


In the evenings, the new location proved to be good fun and great for catching up with clients properly. Jo said: “We got the opportunity to have dinner with Lilian and Simon from Ardblair Sports at a restaurant in the centre of Munich.” But Stephanie adds that there was still a longing for the atmosphere of Fred, “In conversations there was a relief that it wasn’t such a pain to get to but there was a cathartic longing for Friedrichshafen and its idiosyncratic villages and the lake with the beautiful restaurants that surround it. The outdoor vibe that was prevalent isn’t so prolific in Munich.”

But the new location did please with it being logistically much more manageable and easier to get to: “It was lovely to see Munich in summer as we’ve only ever seen it in winter whilst being knee-deepin snow.” Said Jo, Abbie added: “Munich is also great because there’s a u-Bahn metro system making everything easily commutable.”

 What were the results?

According to ISPO and cited by Outdoori, there were 1,018 exhibitors with 84 per cent of them being international. They were all vying for the attention of 22,000 trade visitors. ISPO called it a “huge success” with 87 per cent of their visitors rating this first event as good to excellent. The style of the halls was slightly different – as referenced above – organised more like a shopping mall and making stalls more eye-catching for passing trade. According to Outdoori, OutDoor by ISPO “hit the mark” and fully justified the confidence of its stakeholders.

 2019 trends?

There were two incredibly obvious trends this year: plastic-free and sustainable. “This was plain to see in the use of materials the stands were made up of – both recycled and upcycled materials made a big impact.” Says Jo. The lack of carpet, which must produce an incredibly hideous amount of waste for trade shows normally, didn’t go unnoticed also. 

“Nikwax had ingenuously taken a crate which had been full of product brought to the show and repurposed it into their reception desk. AKU was interesting as well as it had chosen to design its logo using recycled corrugated cardboard.”

When it comes to colour we all noticed two in particular –“electric blue with flashes of yellow” says Abbie, with Mammut and AKU (left) showcasing new boots in this fashion-forward colourway. This bright, colourful vibe was also witnessed at Hydro Flask and LEKI who had both incorporated exciting neon detailing in its 2020 products. 

There was a healthier feel to the show as well with fewer sweets and treats on the stands and more fruit – like big bowls of apples – which was good to see.

Who hit the mark?

We loved the reveal of LifeStraw’s new Home pitcher and Darn Tough’s vintage vibe with its range of athletic socks (right). Following Peter Luscombe’s thoughts, Jo said: “The Mammut stand was open and spacious and had a really cool rope making machine in the middle of the stand that generated rope in a mesmerising fashion. It was then cut into pieces and made into key rings to celebrate Mammut’s heritage with a Swiss flag design.” (Left).

Stephanie says, I loved the Borderlands area where Polartec was. It gave off a young, independent vibe and was very different to the rest of the trade show experience. The stands couldn’t have been more different: Polartec comprised a shipping container, was on two levels and had a structure made out of scaffolding poles. It was a bold move to break from the norm into this new concept area but we think it was a good one.”

This meant Polartec was close to many of the lifestyle brands giving them a chance to showcase their growth away from purely traditional outdoor activity clothing. Something you can read about in our interview with Gary Smith.

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