The sweet gesture — which was set up as part of a Samsung ad campaign — revolved around a young man named Muharrem as he goes about what turned out to be an unforgettable day.
A young Istanbul resident received a heartwarming surprise a few years ago when a bunch of people in his neighborhood came together to make the world a little more inclusive. The sweet gesture — which was set up as part of a Samsung ad campaign — revolved around a young man named Muharrem, who is hearing impaired, as he goes about what turned out to be an unforgettable day. The elaborately planned stunt begins with him setting out for a walk with his sister Ozlem around their community in Bagcilar, a suburban district of Istanbul. Before long, Muharrem and Ozlem — who is in on the set-up — cross paths with an elderly gentleman who signs "good morning" to them.
Although slightly bewildered by the unexpected interaction, Muharrem says nothing and continues walking towards his local food store. His surprise further intensifies at the store when the shopkeeper offers him "hot bagels" through hand signals. Walking out with a smile on his face, the young man crosses the street with his sister where they help a stranger by picking up the fruits he dropped. The man, in turn, uses sign language to offer him an apple as a thank you. Starting to sense a pattern between the interactions, Muharrem turns to his sister to enquire whether she knows the man.
However, he barely has time to take it all in when a woman bumps into him accidentally on purpose before signing "Sorry, my mistake." Muharrem grows increasingly confused when a taxi driver welcomes him into the car with sign language before dropping them off in a public square where a digital kiosk displayed a signing Samsung representative. "Hi Muharrem," she signed. "At Samsung, we wanted to prepare a little surprise for you. Because a world without barriers is our dream as well." The rep goes on to explain that the whole thing was part of an advertisement for Samsung Turkey's video call center for the hearing impaired.
"That's why we began from somewhere and we have launched our video call center. And now we are at the service of all the hearing impaired people," she concluded. A friend finally walks up to Muharrem and points out one of the dozens of cameras set up around the area to reveal the stunt, moving the young man to tears. According to BuzzFeed, this was organized by the Leo Burnett ad firm and Samsung and involved a month's preparation to set up cameras around Muharrem's neighborhood and teach sign language to the locals.
The ad, titled Hearing Hands, spread smiles across the globe when it went viral in 2015. While there were some naysayers who attempted to discredit the heartwarming video as a mere ad, a Samsung spokesperson confirmed that everything seen in the ad is genuine. Furthermore, multi-award-winning executive creative director Chris Matyszczyk shared how some of his Turkish friends explained that the ad should be seen in the context of Turkish infrastructure which makes it very hard for disabled people to live normal lives.
"I have never thought about it. I mean REALLY thought about it. Communication barriers must be so difficult. Look how shocked he was to have people interact with him in ways that so many of us take for granted. Look how moved he was to see that people cared. What an awesome project," commented YouTube user Mariah Sprague. "This may be an ad, but it's an ad for an amazing idea. Imagine living in a world wherein most everyone can't talk to you, and they don't understand you, but then one day, all of a sudden you can understand people and they can understand you," wrote Rory Triscuit.