Details of Rico's demise have not yet been released, but the following suspects are under suspicion of having a hand in the end of his journey:

  • Rapper Snoop Dogg
  • Hugh Hefner's ex, Holly Madison
  • All Black New Zealand rugby player Ma'a Nonu
  • E! News presenter Guliana Rancic
  • 80's fitness icon Richard Simmons
  • New Zealand TV and radio presenter Paul Henry

In a world first Air New Zealand has teamed up with Hasbro, the makers of one of the world's most popular board games CLUEDOTM, to give Rico's fans the chance to figure out which of the famous suspects fell out with Rico and brought about his demise.

The game can be played at www.byebyerico.com.

Rico Cluedo.

Air New Zealand is offering a generous reward for the person who helps them correctly identify who had a hand in Rico's demise, with return airfares for two to Los Angeles, five nights accommodation at a four star hotel and passes to Universal Studios and Disneyland. If the winner comes from Los Angeles, they'll win a similar trip but to New Zealand including accommodation and tours.

Air New Zealand's Head of International Marketing, Jodi Williams, paid tribute to Rico.

"Rico's core purpose over the past year has been to draw global attention to our revolutionary new economy Skycouch and premium economy Spaceseat. As a small airline at the bottom of the world we haven't had the budgets to take a traditional marketing approach to gain awareness of these award-winning product innovations. Thanks to Rico they have had fantastic exposure in our core international markets and beyond," says Ms Williams.

"Rico's risqué approach and online videos resulted in his quick rise to fame over the past year, with more than 4.5 million people watching his videos on YouTube and the Chinese equivalent Yoku, plus hundreds of millions more learning about him through the global media coverage he's garnered in the likes of the New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Huffington Post, the Examiner, Forbes.com, E! News, OK!, Life and Style, Star, Perez Hilton, and US celebrity news website TMZ," says Ms Williams.

Rico's success was cited by judges as one of the reasons Air New Zealand won the 2011 Airline Business marketing strategy award, saying "Air New Zealand is game changing" and that the airline was in an "industry leading position – pushing the outer edge".

"Rico's led a busy life, from collaborating with rapper Snoop Dogg to produce the song Hello Sunshine to creating his own online chat show interviewing David Hasselhoff, Lindsay Lohan and Guliana Rancic," says Ms Williams.

Rico leaves behind a Facebook fan base of more than 47,000 followers.


Ends

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320