Nice Block's watermelon and lime flavour, the original

Fonterra has come under fire for using eerily similar phrasing to Nice Block’s advertisements. Local brand Nice Blocks was founded in 2010 and sells ethically-sourced ice blocks. Fonterra brand Kāpiti recently launched an advertising campaign asking consumers to try a “nicer block,” which has been construed as a play on words targeting Nice Blocks, the David to Fonterra’s Goliath.

Nice Blocks founder James Crow said the brand laughed off the initial Kāpiti ad, which said “Nice Ice Baby,” but the next one – “Try a Nicer Block” – seemed a little more pointed. “We thought, ‘hang on, Fonterra, what are you planning here?”

Fans of Nice Blocks have also pointed out Fonterra billboards bearing the slogan “Summer on a Stick,” which Nice Blocks has used in their marketing for more than five years. Further to that, the recently-released ice block from Kāpiti – the “nicer block” – is a watermelon and kaffir flavour, awfully similar to Nice Block’s earlier watermelon and lime flavour, developed with cancer survivor Ruby Seeto to raise funds for cancer research.

Kāpiti has stated it sees where Nice Blocks’ concern comes from, and it won’t use the wording going forward. That being said, it will take some time for the material to leave the market. “To actually stop their overall marketing campaign now will cost them money,” said Crow. “To let it go on unchallenged could certainly affect our sales.”

Nice Blocks is so names for the taste, yes, but also for its nice values: the brand is Living Wage accredited, Fairtrade certified, and a sponsor of Starship Children’s Hospital. The blocks’ ingredients are vegan, ethically sourced, and simple.

Crow points out that a company the size of Fonterra has the resources to be just as nice. “A great start would be our suggestion to match the $10,000 donation to Starship that we’ll be handing over later this year,” said Crow. The funds will go toward supporting young women with cancer who can freeze their eggs, allowing them options if they choose to one day have children. “Now that’s being Nice, Fonterra,” challenged Crow.