Poignant Dairy Farmers of Canada film illuminates tradition

Creative production company Gentleman Scholar, with offices in LA and New York, recently teamed with DDB Canada and the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) to produce a touching animated short film at the heart of a new integrated campaign to help elevate the quality perception of Canadian cheese.

With new trade laws coming soon that will make imported cheese more accessible to the Canadian consumer, DFC crafted a narrative that establishes Canadian cheese as a global competitor and an indulgence worth exploring. With the millennial target in mind, the campaign suggests that what separates Canadian cheese from imported, European cheese is the creativity of Canadian cheese makers.

The campaign launched with the short, “Mia and Morton: A Story of Canadian Cheese”, debuting on the brand's YouTube channel together with several 15- and six-second cut-down versions. The short also lives on the campaign's microsite.

"Rather than tread the well-worn 'traditionally crafted, artisanal quality' story typical of cheese advertising, we share a new story for Canadian cheese," explained DDB Canada's executive creative director Paul Wallace. "Inspired by a cultural mosaic of traditions, peoples, and tastes, Canadian cheesemakers are unburdened by tradition, leaving them free to craft new, creative cheeses in any manner their hearts desire."

Set in a quaint artisan cheese shop, "Mia and Morton" spotlights an aging cheesemaker and his energetic daughter, who also happens to be his apprentice and muse. Mia helps out at the shop, learning the craft and urges her father to enter an international cheese competition, which he has participated in, but constantly lands in second or third place. As we see Mia grow and Morton grow older, Mia becomes a cheesemaker in her own right and her father lovingly enters her into the competition, knowing her handmade cheese has bested his.

Rose Cousins' performance of a simpler version of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" provides the film's touching soundtrack. As the song builds, with inspiration from Mia and family cat Monty, the cheesemakers persevere together, bringing home a momentous grand prize.

Known for their high-profile productions that range from live-action to animation, virtual reality and everything in-between, Gentleman Scholar's creative directors William Campbell and Will Johnson seized upon the storytelling opportunity.

"The initial script for this project is actually very close to what you see on the screen… in terms of the overall emotional arc and a lot of the moments," Campbell stated. "One of our key contributions was helping to capture the essence of time passing, and visually communicating the changes in the relationship between Morton and Mia. That was such an amazing emotional journey to be able to dive into."

Added Johnson: "While we met Morton and Mia in the script – when it came to who they were, what their story was and the nuances of their performances, all of that was left for us to craft. We really dove in with the character development, the world building, the development of their spaces and the textures of materials. We brought life into Monty the cat as well. For everyone here, it was really important to craft the look and feel of these characters as a family unit, and how their personalities came through in the animation."

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