Staff Reporters
Jun 18, 2018

How Mainland Cheese got people to spend hours puzzling over its products

CASE STUDY: A Colenso BBDO direct-mail campaign for Mainland Cheese flipped onto its head the idea that brand interactions should only ever be quick and painless.

One of the 2,000-puzzle pieces created by Mainland Cheese
One of the 2,000-puzzle pieces created by Mainland Cheese

Background and aims

The average worldwide response rate for direct mail is 5.1%. ‘Low barriers to entry’ are king. Brands are therefore used to asking as little of their customers as possible, to make interactions with them as quick and painless as they can be.

When the tagline you've been using for two decades is "Good things take time", however, the fast, attention-grabbing nature of direct advertising doesn't necessarily sit well with your core brand values.

Mainland Cheese is a brand that began life as a family business in New Zealand and is now owned by Fonterra. In February its agency, Colenso BBDO, received a brief for a direct campaign aimed at engaging Kiwi cheese-lovers—but in an appropriately leisurely way.

“We decided to turn the traditional fast and easy nature of coupons on its head," said Colenso creative director Mike Davison. “We thought that if the prize for redemption was very, very good, then perhaps it would be worth the time—and lots of it.”


Colenso decided to develop a voucher for free Mainland Cheese that came in the form of an extremely difficult, 2,000-piece puzzle. Delivered through the post, the voucher invited customers to live the brand’s mantra by spending the hours necessary to piece the puzzle together in order to redeem their prize.

The agency worked with still-life photographer Lewis Mulatero to capture macro shots of three of Mainland’s most popular cheeses, which were then turned into jigsaws. “The extreme close-ups gave us these huge areas of just the one colour, which made putting the vouchers together even more time-consuming,” says Davison.


The campaign asked a lot of its customers. Where coupons generally gather dust in the bottom of a wallet, this voucher spent days, weeks, and even months, lying front and centre on coffee tables, bedroom floors and dining tables all over New Zealand.

By the campaign’s end, 40% of the vouchers had been redeemed (it's worth noting that the vouchers were for extraordinarily large amounts of cheese, as you can see in the video above). And while the average dwell time for a print advert is three seconds, the fastest dwell time for the 2,000-piece vouchers was a staggering 45 hours.


Agency: Colenso BBDO
Creative chairman: Nick Worthington
Chief creative officer: Levi Slavin
Creative director: Mike Davison
Art director: Charlie Godinet
Copywriter: Eloise Jack
Junior creative: Tim Thach
Junior creative: William Sidnam
Group business director: Annabel Rees
Account manager: Almaz Rabb
Account executive: Barnaby O'Donnell Clarke
Producer: Charlie Mason
Digital Producer: Cherie Mason
Digital Producer: Alex Gillespie
Producer: Cherie Mason
Photographer: Lewis Mulatero
Photographer's Producer: Rob Finn
Retoucher: Reks Kok
Mac Op: Katie Campbell
Mac Op: Baxter Richardson
Mac Op: Erin O'Connell
Studio Coordinator: Stuart Sutherland
Media Agency: MediaCom

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