The New Zealand Ice Cream Association
The New Zealand Ice Cream Association

1971 - 1990

The first Trumpet

It was 1964, not long after television started in New Zealand, when the very first Tip Top Trumpet TV advertisement appeared. So long ago, that when we enquired, Tip Top themselves no longer had a record of it.

In December 2014, I had a conversation with a stranger at a Christmas party, mentioning my interest in the history of ice cream. He immediately introduced himself as ' the original Trumpet boy!', and it was his memories of an advertising campaign 50 years ago that led us to this fascinating story.

In April 1964, General Foods Corporation (Tip Top Ice Cream) had launched the Trumpet, New Zealand's answer to the American Drumstick and Europe's Cornetto, and our first ice cream-in-a-waffle-cone frozen novelty. It was a major leap forward in technology and sophistication, and the launch was supported by an extensive advertising campaign, including a live-action television commercial.

The boy who featured in the TV commercial, and in other advertising material, is Aucklander Michael Yalland.

Michael, 11 years old at the time, was cast as one of the members of a junior marching band, led by a trumpet player. He also featured solo in the print and marketing campaign, complete with blue band uniform.

He has vivid memories of a particular scene filmed for the television commercial in Myers Park, Auckland, where he was supposed to be eating ice cream on a swing - the "takes" being repeated to the point where he was physically sick!

And just as the famous "VW Beetle" TV commercial helped launch the career of super model Rachel Hunter twenty-one years later, the first-ever Tip Top Trumpet television advertisement starred another soon-to-be-famous Kiwi.

The trumpet player was a young singer and musical performer who would go on to become one of our best-known faces on television over the next few decades - TV and radio presenter, TV producer, language expert, quizmaster and author, Max Cryer, MBE.

Michael's mother was a choreographer who had been involved in a musical production with Max, and Michael thinks that this is how he came to be involved.

Max remembers:

"That particular commercial was inspired by the hit Broadway musical 'The Music Man' - which had won five Tony Awards and an LP of its songs had topped Billboard charts for over 200 weeks.

In 1961-62 the musical was playing in London (starring Van Jonson) and in 1962 the movie came out (starring Robert Preston) and was a huge success especially its hit song "Seventy-Six Trombones" - this was the inspiration for the Tip Top commercial and its new product: Trumpet.

By 1964 I was appearing on TV in NZ, and was contracted to play the lead in the Tip Top commercial as a uniformed leader of a junior marching-band - not with a trombone, but of course with a trumpet.

It was in black-and-white, but the print offerings (posters, print adverts. etc) were often in colour.

Shortly after that, "The Music Man" musical was produced in Auckland, and possibly on the strength of the impact the commercial had, I was offered the leading role of the music man (and his trombone) but alas, commitments had started piling up, and I was already booked for something else."

Max remembers that the original photography was done by Robert Steele - Auckland's most famous photographer and film-maker of the era.

Sadly we haven't been able to locate a copy of the film.

However, by complete coincidence, 8 months later I stumbled on a copy of one of the print advertisements in one of my old school yearbooks (below):

Tip Top Trumpet print advertisement, dated 1964. Probably reproduced from a poster.
- Edgecumbe College school yearbook - Chris Newey.

Max worked on the Trumpet project with another famous Kiwi, author, food writer and television cook Glynn Christian, who in those days, worked in advertising.

Glynn, a descendant of Fletcher Christian of "Mutiny On The Bounty" fame, and these days based in London, remembers the Trumpet advertising campaign very well - it involved a TV commercial, print spreads and posters, and a radio commercial (which won a prize in the annual advertising awards).

Glynn produced the TV commercial for top advertising agency J. Inglis Wright, whose account executive for Tip Top was Brian Couldrey.

Glynn became Head of Radio and TV Advertising at the agency in 1963, so he dates the commercial as being made in late 1963 or 1964.

Glynn confirms that the commercial was inspired by 'The Music Man' and filmed on 16 mm film, with Max's 'band-leader' uniform made in light blue (which showed as white on black-and-white TV without blurring).

The jingle went:

It's got nuts
It's got chocolate
Smooth vanilla ice cream
And a brand new waffle cone
Four-in-One, ice cream fun
Tip-Top Trumpet.

The price of a Trumpet was one shilling (10 cents).

The campaign included this impressive giant Trumpet in the centre of the Panmure Roundabout:

Tip Top Trumpet promotion, Panmure Roundabout, Auckland, ca. 1964
- Tip Top archives via FMCG magazine and longwhitekid.

The advertising and promotion obviously worked well - Tip Top sold two million Trumpets in the first month!

Michael has kept one of the original point-of-sale, stand-up counter-top advertisers in which he featured:

Tip Top Trumpet point of sale advertising (re-colourised), 1964.
- Michael Yalland

The top of the Trumpet is shown as rounded, not the flattened rosette shape that is produced when the circular cardboard lid is applied, so probably the photography was done before production samples were available.

Robert Steele's production company also made a documentary film for Tip Top in that same year, 1964, called "All About Ice Cream".

Tip Top Trumpet production line, Auckland, 1964.
Stills from the documentary film, "All About Ice Cream", Robert Steele Productions, 1964.
- Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

It shows extensive footage inside the then-new Tip Top Mt Wellington, Auckland factory, including a brand-new Trumpet production line (10 minutes 30 secs into the film):

"All About Ice Cream" (1964) Robert Steele Productions - Nga Taonga Sound & Vision.

A couple of other very famous Kiwis were involved in production of this film - the voice-over is by legendary "It's In The Bag" quizmaster Selwyn Toogood, and the cartoon characters are voiced by Auckland radio & television personality Merv Smith.

So an almost-forgotten piece of our ice cream history has been rescued, thanks to a chance meeting, and the sharp memories of some of the key players in that ground-breaking campaign 50 years ago.

And amazingly, Tip Top's legendary Trumpet is still going strong.

- Chris Newey.

- Special thanks to Michael Yalland, Max Cryer and Glynn Christian for sharing their memories of the first Tip Top Trumpet TVC and advertising campaign.

Other references and related sites:

Fonterra Brands (Tip Top)

Longwhitekid - history of Peter Pan, Tip Top, Meadow Gold, Wall's, Hokey Pokey, and much more:

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

BackBack to Ice Cream Brands from the Past.

You can't beat a Trumpet!

- The first Tip Top Trumpet was launched, vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone, coated with chocolate and nuts.

"It's got nuts
It's got chocolate
Smooth vanilla ice cream
And a brand new waffle cone
Four-in-One, ice cream fun
Tip-Top Trumpet.
Price 1 shilling (10 cents).

1975 - The Mint Candy Trumpet was launched:

The Trumpet television ad' for this campaign (below, Tip Top archives), featured the County Fair Band:

And the ice cream man played the trumpet ...

"... Reverend Jones on the slide trombone,
And the ice cream man played the Trumpet.
Price 20 cents.

1979 - The Tip Top Trumpet ad with Roger and Fay:

I once bought an icecream for a girl named Fay,
Till Roger the bully stole them both away;
But now that I'm grown-up look what I've got:
- it's a trumpet Fay and it's made by Tip Top (made by Tip Top).
It's the finest ice cream that money can buy.
It's got chocolate and nuts, six flavours to try.
It's the treat for the big boys I told her, and then, and then...
Oh lordy, it's Roger again!
One day, Roger Fitch, one day...!

1985 - The famous "VW Beetle" Trumpet ad' first appeared, starring a just-turned-16 Rachel Hunter:

"Here is a country that can't be beat,
It's on the faces of the people you meet,
It's in the way that we make it, big and sweet;
It's in the ice cream that we all eat,
Can't beat a Trumpet,
Can't beat a Trumpet,
You can't beat a Trumpet!"

Price 55 cents.

1991 - The Boysenberry Trumpet is launched, along with the "new" Mint Trumpet.

People who eat Trumpet,
Are The Luckiest People in the World

Price $1.10.
Now also available in four-packs from the supermarket.

2006 - Tip Top Trumpet "Simplifying Summer" TV advertising campaign - included
Togs or Undies?
Hold Your Tummy In!
, and
How To Go In the Ocean Without Being Noticed

2007 - The "VW Beetle" Tip Top Trumpet TV ad was re-launched in recognition of Tip Top's 70th birthday, along with the all-new Jelly Tip Trumpet - two Kiwi legends in the one delicious bite! Creamy vanilla choc chip ice cream in a cone, with a gooey raspberry flavoured jelly centre , covered in choc topping and choc pieces:

2011 - Tip Top's 75th anniversary was celebrated with the re-launch of the Classic Mint Trumpet, and in the year of the Rugby World Cup (hosted in New Zealand), the new All Blacks Hokey Pokey Trumpet:

              - Steve Williams.

Price $2.80.

                         Tip Top

1935 - now.

From a small milk bar in Manners Street, Wellington to New Zealand's largest manufacturer and now oldest surviving ice cream brand.

- Tip Top archives.

More ...

Hi there, listening to Radio NZ reminded me, I responded to a request on radio for home movies kiwi summer kids action? I think in the 90's and it was used in an ad for Trumpets (Rachel Hunter era).

My brother & I swinging off a rope hanging out of a tree & dropping into the Kauaeranga River! I saw it once only on TV a mere few seconds on screen! From memory the payment was minimal!

- Kay Smith.

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