Like many English people I have split loyalties when it comes to football. In the days of John Terry and Ashley Cole, it was often easier to tell people I supported Wales. But whatever the managerial credentials of Gareth Southgate, there has been a transformation under his leadership in the vibe around the side.
I was impressed by Southgate’s essay on why the team needs to show moral leadership, and the solidarity and courage shown by the players in choosing to kneel before matches, despite booing from a sad minority of supporters. It feels, for the first time in my life, like the English flag stands for something other than parochialism and exclusion – and that will be the case even after history inevitably repeats itself against Germany next Tuesday.
But to the actual campaign: what I love about this Deliveroo ad is the way it brings together the jingoism that is inherent (and vital) in international football with the truth about modern English culture, which is that, as a nation, we thrive on our openness to global cultures, not least in terms of food.
Much of that is down to the brutal legacy of empire, of course – but it’s a complicated picture. While most European countries have treasured their culinary traditions, and rightly so, the impact of the Second World War on the way people eat in the UK meant, basically, that wasn’t an option for us. Along with the rise of processed food such as packaged bread and ready meals, that situation created a population willing and ready to eat the best the world has to offer.
Whether Deliveroo is having a positive impact on the UK restaurant industry or not is a question that deserves consideration. But the point it is making in this campaign should be amplified: that the core of modern English identity is our vibrant multicultural society.
Title England ‘til We Dine
Created by Tom Woodington and Robin Temple
Production company Partizan
Director Chris Cairns