A Syrian refugee boy discovers Dutch culture through food shared with his classmate in a heartwarming new film by Plus Supermarket.
The ad, by JWT Amsterdam, isn't afraid to touch on the sensitive area of the ambivalent attitude of some Europeans to refugees: when the the little boy, Ismael, is initially placed next to his hoody-wearing blond classmate, he looks unfriendly and moves his desk away. However, they gradually become friends, with the Syrian boy trying all kinds of Dutch food (some of which he likes and others not) as he finds out about his friend's home life. He tries Dutch favorites like pickled herring with raw onions, toasted cheese and ham sandwiches (without the the ham) and the classic deep-fried meat snack, the "bitterbal."
The spot ends with the Dutch boy being invited to share a Syrian meal with his friend: again, he looks unsure, but takes a bite and enjoys the food. The two boys' delightful performances are directed by Ismael ten Heuvel, who we're told was so moved by the narrative that he even named the protagonist after himself.
It's not the first time Plus, JWT and ten Heuvel have set out to portray modern Dutch life realistically in its advertising: all three collaborated on last year's bittersweet holiday ad that dealt with divorce and co-parenting, in collaboration with a divorce charity.
Bas Korsten, creative director at JWT Amsterdam, comments: "Food and culture are intrinsically linked. And more than that--food has the power to bring people together. Even when they can't speak the same language. This was what we wanted to portray in a genuine and thoughtful way with our new film for Plus Supermarkets."