Classic tvc created after smoking pot

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AUCKLAND, Sunday: The Kiwi classic Ches’n’Dale advertising jingle was created after a copywriter and art director came back from smoking “some half decent weed” in an Austin A30 car in the then unfashionable suburb of Ponsonby.

Thus wrote Bernard Orsman in the Herald on Sunday yesterday, giving readers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the ad-creative scene in NZ in the late 1960s-early 1970s.

The creatives were copywriter Robert Jenkins and art director Don Couldrey – both at Dormer Beck Auckland, at the time one of the major creative agency networks in NZ (along with Saatchi & Saatchi, Carlton Carruthers du Chateau, Charles Haines, J Ilotts, and J Inglis Wright). Illustrious artist Dick Frizzell was also later involved in the development of Ches’n’Dale.

Fifty years after creating the farmer cartoon characters and catchy jingle, Jenkins has revealed to Orsman for the first time the edgy (for the time) story of how “these boys from down on the farm” were born.

“Seeking inspiration, we popped across the road to Don’s A30 and, contemplating the nice view of the harbour, lit up some half-decent weed.”

“Seeking inspiration,” he told Orsman, “we popped across the road to Don’s ‘Jellybean’ Austin A30 and whilst contemplating the nice view of Auckland Harbour, lit up some half-decent weed.

“Back in the office, suitably inspired and tongues firmly planted in cheeks, we came up with the idea of creating two cartoon characters called Chester and Dale while Dan used his well-honed cartooning skills to create two suitably garbed Kiwi dairy farmers.”

Armed with Don’s pictures, a small tape recorder and support from the agency’s TV producer Sam Gardiner, they set off to present the commercial to the head of the company, Jack Butland, who was later knighted.

“Facing Sir Jack across his extensive desk we presented, a tad nervously, the genesis of the Ches’n’Dale advertising campaign, quite expecting to be laughed out of the room,” Jenkins said.

“Mr Butland listened patiently, not cracking a smile or a frown and then said after a brief pause, ‘That’s one of the best advertising ideas I have ever seen’. We were suitably shocked.

The lyrics were set to music by Terry Gray, who later became director of music for Television New Zealand. The song was recorded by the folk group The Yeomen at Mascot Studios in Ponsonby.

  • It’s a damn fine historical yarn – read it in its entirety (and check out the grainy old photos of the creatives) at

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