The Unox commercial with Evert van Benthem in relation to the potato eaters

text roberto voorbij

Unox, mostly known for its Unox sausage, constantly tries to profile itself as an authentic Dutch brand. It even strives for being the most Dutch brand thinkable. Unox tries to achieve this through non stop associating itself with typical Dutch habits, events and persons. Whether it is the new years dive or the Eleven Cities Tour, Delftware tiles or Boerenbont pottery, Unox continuously appeals to the national desires. A need which apparently is strongly present among consumers. Ironically however these same multinationals are partial the cause that these desires are under pressure. The commercial with the to Canada emigrated Eleven Cities Tour winner, our national hero, Evert van Benthem, is a meaningful example of this. The 45 seconds lasting commercial eventually climaxes in a true re-enactment of Vincent van Gogh’s potato eaters. This archetypical Dutch image is being preceded by a sequence of Canadian / American cultural clichés. Among other things we are witness of Van Benthem taking of his cowboy hat for the Canadian anthem in a typical diner. Of Van Bentem after arriving on his North-American ranch playing basketball with his children. We see a rather overly integrated Evert Van Benthem, accompanied by country music, in his pickup truck collecting a postal package from Holland, what turns out to be a package of Unox sausage. The decision of letting typical Dutch national elements being preceded by unmistakable American images and music is certainly well thought-out. Both national expressions function simultaneously as ones contrasting opposites as ones affirmative equals. By not judging either one of them a viewer can agree with them or not, the maker is never wrong. The Americanization is being glorified and literally switched off in the same commercial. Very clever is the transition of widescreen-image to classic dimension when the mother calls everyone for dinner and so, wittingly or unwittingly, the first similarity arises between Van Gogh’s potato eaters, which has an identical ratio, and the apotheoses of this Unox commercial. Besides the change to a more Dutch soundtrack, it’s mainly The potato eaters that has been the source for this ultimate Holland experience. That this painting has been used as an example during the composing of the storyboard proof the numerous resemblances. The farmer family of five persons, the same standpoint of the viewer, the central on the table placed pan, the dark room central lit with the dark shadows on the backs, the comparable arrangement of the background, comparable chairs and a comparable lamp above the table. Where the similarity ends however is the meaning of the original painting. In fact are we dealing here with the only true engaged painting of Van Gogh’s hand. His intention was it to question capitalism. It doesn’t concern here a depiction of Dutch cosiness, although many people do interpret it in this way, but of exploitation and poverty. In a sparsely lit room the potatoes are being forked from a single pan. The hands clearly lit which has to emphasize the heavy manual labour. From this perspective it’s rather harsh that precisely a multinational as Unilever annexes this painting. For a brand that by the way barely exists for 70 years.


About The Bleeding Tomato

The Bleeding Tomato is the online sketch book of Roberto Voorbij - Visual / 3D Artist. A place for his spin-offs, new ideas, personal frustrations and fascinations. Blogging about art, sociology, technique, marketing and more…
This entry was posted in marketing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s