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In the late 1910s, the first advertising films appeared in the Dutch cinemas. This marked the beginning of a rich tradition in Dutch film: advertising films, together with corporate and educational films, would form the bedrock of the Dutch film industry. They provided for continuity in periods when the production of other genres lagged, such as the feature film.

Large multinationals and small, local businesses

Advertising films were made ​​for large multinationals such as Philips, Unilever (then still known as Van der Bergh & Jurgens), and Shell (then known as the Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij), but also for small, local businesses. That helps explain why these productions vary from huge campaigns with multiple versions in different languages ​​to short, amateurish-looking series of intertitles that were produced for a small handful of neighbourhood cinemas.

Still from The aethership (George Pàl, 1934)
Still from The aethership (George Pàl, 1934)
Wessanen advertisement
NV Wessanen at the exchange (Unknown, 1920)

International renown

Starting in the 1930s, Dutch advertising films obtained international renown. This began with the puppet animations that George Pàl made ​​for Philips. Later, from the 1940s to the 1980s, the torch was taken over by the studios of Joop Geesink and Marten Toonder, which made ​​thousands of advertising films for the cinema and television.