Mainland Cheese Cheesemakers on TV

Having spent this last week on the Mainland (New Zealand’s South Island) I thought it would be appropriate to feature Mainland Cheese today. Mainland is rapidly becoming a popular choice in Australian supermarkets, with the range of mild, colby, tasty, vintage, feta and edam cheeses.

Mainland Cheese Old Men Check Vintage in TV Ad

Mainland Cheese is based in Dunedin and is part of the Fonterra Group. I’m surprised they don’t have their own web site, though the brand does get a page of its own at the web sites of New Zealand Milk and Fonterra. Mainland features as the major sponsor of the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust.

Mainland Cheese Logo Robert Sarkies, director of the Dunedin film, Scarfies, was responsible for three of the Mainland Cheese commercials in New Zealand. Working with creatives Hugh Walsh and Chris Martin from Clemenger BBDO Wellington, Sarkies directed a series of ads featuring two leisurely gents strolling up to their Central Otago hut (near Queenstown) to check the tasty cheese.

The Vintage ad (Sharp) features two old codgers taking a break from their fishing. They play a word game as they walk up to the cottage, connecting species of fish with popular singers. They try Cod Stewart, Squid Vicious, Cinammon Davis Junior, Tim and Eel Finn, Terakihi Kanawa, Tina Tuna, finishing with Pike and Tina Tuna. On the way back from the cheese tasting they find musicians with cheese sounding names: Chubby Cheddar, The Brie Gees, Camembert Humperdink, Mozarella Fitzgerald, Bryan Edam, Stilton John, Colby Stilton Nash and the Beatles. The Beatles? Yeah… Grated Hits!

The Birds ad features bird impersonations. It’s a moa, tern, seagull, duck, heron and a crane. Voiceover: “We wait eighteen months for our vintage cheddar to develop that distinctive sharp Mainland taste. Eighteen long months.” “It’s a fantail!”

‘Mainland Port’, also directed by Sarkies, features our two old codgers walking home from the cheese tasting, obviously drunk as they sing ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain”. We’re introduced to Mainland Port Cheddar – each block individually soaked in real port.

This series was developed at Colenso BBDO, Auckland, by creative director Philip Andrew, copywriter Hugh Walsh, art director Chris Martin, agency producer Martin Collins, account supervisor Sharon Angus.

Filming was shot by director Robert Sarkies via Motion Pictures with producer Declan Cahill and director of photography Ian Paul. Music was by Murray Grindley.

The Cheesemakers

Singleton Ogilvy & Mather has until this year looked after Mainland’s promotion in Australia, with the “Friend in the fridge” campaign as the starship campaign.

Julian Smith conceived, wrote and directed the original series of Mainland “Cheesemakers” that established the popularity of Mainland cheese in Australia. The ads take off the New Zealand accent time after time. For those living in other parts of the world, you need to know that Australians pick Kiwis up on their pronunciation of the short ‘i’ in which ‘milk’ becomes ‘mulk’, and the short ‘a’ in which ‘fatter’ becomes ‘fetter’.

Chefs discuss Mainland Cheese in TV AdIn Taranaki, New Zealand a young chef/cheesemaker asks his senior, “Why is it? Why is Mainland Colby the best cheese?” The answer… “Well the grass is greener. The milk is richer. The cows are fatter.” “Feta! That’s a Greek cheese isn’t it?” “Not feta! Fatter!”
Voiceover: “In the lush green pastures of New Zealand they might be a bit behind the rest of the world but that’s why their Mainland cheese is so far ahead.”
The young chef starts again…”If New Zealand is made up of islands, doesn’t that make Australia the mainland?”

Julian provides the original Cheesemakers ad in quicktime, windows media and flash formats at his new site, The Creative Directors.

I Hire the Cheesemakers

Roger Tompkins directed the Mainland Cheesemakers Ad in which a guy waits out three contestants for a job at Mainland Cheese. When he asks the only other guy left if he’s ‘here about the job too?” “Me, no, I work here. I hire the cheesemakers. Welcome aboard.” Mainland. Good things take time.

A note from the Fonterra corporate site:
Mainland Products Ltd employs about 2,200 staff, and has in excess of 2,200 different end product variants. Products include milk, cream, UHT milk, flavoured milk, cream, fruit beverages, butter, cheese (cheddar, processed and specialty), yoghurt, cultured foods, processed meats, and frozen convenience foods.

  • Christina

    Heya, I love the Chessemaker ads! My flatmate and I are honestly the younger version of the old codgers. I would love to be able to get her a poster or picture for her birthday. Any ideas how I could get my hands on something?


  • Lisa Kuhni


    I am looking for a compilation DVD with vintage Christmas TV commercials. Do you have such a thing? Please let me know.

  • Hi Lisa. Sorry I don’t make compilation DVDs.

  • Essie

    Love these ads of the old codgers — please, are you able to tell us who the old codgers are in real life? Also, do they actually have names in the ads — what are they?

  • Su Burgess

    Hi Like many others on the trade me message board we have been discussing the Mainland adverts. And how we love the old codgers. And that we hope you make many adverts using the guys before they leave this world for good. Can you give us any information about the guys.? I’ll post a link from the thread so you can tell how interested we all are. It seems one or the other remind us all of someone we know. Here’s the link at Trademe.
    Can’t wait to hear back from you. Thanks Su

  • Chris G

    As a cheesemaker I love these ads – hilarious, but hit the mark with sentiment as well

  • David

    Can anyone tell me where the latest cheesemaker ad is filmed “Mainland Cheeseday”
    and the sign says “Mainland Tuesday” we want to live in that gorgeous town
    Cheers David

  • troy crosbie

    Hey there David
    The ad was filmed in the small Central Otago town of Clyde.

    I was fortunate enough to involved with this ad, in a extra role which was a good experience.

    They used over a hundred local people for this ad.

  • Amanda

    Can you really make that steak with cheese filled inside (the one thats on the cheesday(tuesday)add at mom? Does anybody know?

  • samuel welsh

    great stuff

  • Jude

    Love that ad,guessed it was made in Clyde as it is my husbands home town.Have to get down that way again sometime soon.

  • Kevin

    The are awesome and as kiwi as you can BUT PLEASE has anyone got the ad of the curling in Naseby, be much appreciated

  • Graham Slater

    Can you tell me what the music track is on all these Mainland Ads. Who composed it and was it written for the Ads or is it a track from something else?

  • Ellie

    Whats in Mainland Colby Cheese??

    need to know like asap!

    we need it for our science fair which needs to be handed in TODAY!


  • lynnette robertson

    I just love the cheese ads with the elderly men in them

    they would make awesome grandads
    we often use their phrase
    “it’s not today is it”
    love them!!!!!!
    lynnette robertson

  • Jim Radich

    In the ad for Mainland cheese where the boy gets off the bus and the old chap tells him about how the milk is produced the gate is upside down.As an ex dairy farmer I have built in installed many gates and the brace going from the top of the hinge end to the bottom of the gate has no strength.The correct method is always from the bottom of the hinge end to the top of the gate.Please turn the gate up the correct way.

  • Brian T V McIntyre

    Mainland are now using a new actor who meets his son off the bus. Can anyone tell me what has happened to the two previous lovely old guys that we have all become to love over many years. Cheers Brian McIntyre, Nelson

  • Kelly

    Hi love the ads was wondering what the boys name is on the new mainland cheese ad?

  • Jill tapp

    Can you please tell me where the latest Mainland cheese ad is filmed, featuring the man and boy eating salad rolls containing cheese as they lean on a gate.