Last week Holland.com published a video advert in which a cocky narrator explains why ‘Holland’ is the original cool. He contrasts posh English phrases with the down-to-earth words the Dutch supposedly use, such as ‘food’ instead of ‘artisanal cooking’.
The video above is a parody that appeared shortly after — I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been made by the same ad agency — in which the original visuals are replaced. ‘Artisanal cooking’ is suddenly contrasted with pulling a croquette from a street-side vending machine and ’boutique shopping’ becomes the Saturday morning Albert Heijn (Dutch supermarket) run. Added in for good measure is the world famous Dutch ‘service’, a concept so alien that the language doesn’t even has its own word for it and defaults to the French word (although we generally pronounce it the English way).
Personally, I think it is a great advert. It highlights the open manner in which the Dutch speak to the point of being abrasive and presents this as charming and desirable. The heavy Dutch accent spoken by everybody in the video underlines the exaggerated, almost cartoonish tone of the video. Our English really isn’t that good, but the message the viewer takes away is that it’s good enough to get by when visiting the country. This entire presentation helps smuggle in a lot of fact-free content, stressing great food for example even though our culinary tradition is mostly one of Calvinistic soberness (as long as you stay north of the great rivers), and pointing out our traditional use of wind energy even though nowadays our record for renewable energy is one of the worst in Europe.
“First job, find KLM passengers who have checked into their flight via one of KLM’s Foursquare locations or left a message through Twitter. Second job, search their social profiles, get to know them in a, er, discreet manner, to think of a personalised gift.”
Free stuff is nice and I guess this is an interesting marketing campiagn, but it does make me feel uncomfortable and I don’t see the use of it. Of course, if you tweet what you do or tell people on Foursquare where you are, you can expect anyone to be able to read it. However, wouldn’t it be better if KLM or any airline for that matter could just serve you better in general?
Although the goal was to see how happiness spreads, all I can think of is all the hundreds of people that were stranded at Schiphol airport recently. No gift can make up for that.
The debate about winter tires is back in time for Christmas. In February when there was actual long-staying snow on the ground, I wrote a big posting about why winter tires are a good thing, but not always necessary.
The ANWB (Royal Dutch Automobile Association), Veilig Verkeer Nederland (Safe Traffic association) and others are highly recommending winter tires this year and guess what? We’re apparently facing a winter tire shortage, if we can believe the hype over at newspaper De Telegraaf (in Dutch).
It could easily be seen as a marketing stunt in a country where winter tires are not obligatory and are only useful maybe a few weeks out of the year if at all, depending on which part of the country you live in and if we actually get some snow and/or ice. Anyone who drives to Gemany or Austria to go skiing is obliged to switch tires, but many people go by bus that have winter tires or fly to their skiing destination.
“Winter tires are good when the road is covered with snow and is slippery. All-seasons are good in many conditions, but don’t have the grip of winter tires and braking takes longer. Ordinary tires are cheaper, but much more dangerous altogether in winter conditions.”
It’s still a toss up. The car I drove last winter had what the Dutch call ‘summer tires’. We drove down to France, but waited until the snow had melted on the highway here to drive down safely. Driving more carefully and more slowly in winter was part of my driving theory exam here in the Netherlands. I like the bit about driving off in second gear to get more grip when there’s snow on the ground.
The past week Kyteman manager Niels Aalberts has been posting and annotating a six part e-mail correspondence with Caro Emerald producer David Schreurs about how they got to their respective successes.
One of the most remarkable ideas in the stories of both Kyteman and Caro Emerald as noted by internet marketeer Erwin Blom is the one of developing success outside the framework of traditional record companies. Schreurs mentions that this makes it easier to make quick decisions (you don’t have to keep track of everybody’s agendas), and that since your money is not disappearing into the deep pockets of the share holders of the likes of Sony, you can allocate resources for expensive projects more easily.
Kyteman is young jazz musician Colin Bender’s project, a hip hop orchestra containing 12 instrumentalists and 10 MCs. Their debut album The Hermit Sessions (2009) has been in the Dutch Album Top 100 for the past 79 weeks, and has sold 60,000 copies so far. Earlier this year the orchestra won the Popprijs.
Caro Emerald (Caroline van der Leeuw) is a jazz singer whose A Night Like This shot to the top of the charts, and whose album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor easily took over the record for most weeks at number 1 in the Dutch Album Top 100 (30 and counting)—the previous record was held by Michael Jackson’s Thriller (27 in 1982). In the second quarter of this year, Deleted Scenes accounted for 10% of all album sales in the Netherlands.
Mark Ho is an artist who thought up a bronze robot at a lonely time in his life. Just like in the movies, some rich American now wants to sell his art to the world, after having seen a photo of the robot on the cover of Scientific American.
The Amsterdam student at the Hoge School voor de Kunsten (HKU) has been working almost 12 years alone and in silence on the metal doll that moves like a human. Yesterday, he left for the US to talk to an investor about bringing his product onto the market. “At the HKU, sometime in 1994, we were given the assignment of making an animated figure from aluminium. Everyone knows those wooden dolls on the bookshelves. I wanted to make one from metal, but I had no idea how.”
After figuring out many details and even building his own tools, his first doll is now five years old. It consists of 920 parts and 80 mechanical parts. The creature, that answers to the name Artform No 1, can even move its shoulders. “A person is much simpler than this,” Ho laughs.
You can say many bad things about Amsterdam’s city marketing campaign I AmSterdam, but at least in some respect it works. A mix of the phrase “I am Amsterdam” and “I heart Amsterdam,” the slogan lets people express their positive feelings towards the city in a tacky but unified manner.
Madrid tries to copy the formula, and copies everything that is wrong about the I AmSterdam campaign. It is tacky. You cannot force a meaningful emotional response with a cold marketing campaign. The formula replaces core values—the reasons why people like Amsterdam or Madrid—with empty slogans. And in doing so, the campaigns are insulting to their audiences’ intelligence.
But Madrid’s copy takes things one step further: it just doesn’t work. “Madrid about you” is a funny pun, but the way the logo is styled makes it say: “Madrid equals mad” (the “about you” is de-emphazised by shoving it to the bottom and printing it in a smaller font.) Critical Spanish designer Rafa Celda says in El Pais that the people who came up with this campaign are trying too hard. “This is like one of those logos that comes with a manual.”
Last year journalist Teun van de Keuken failed to get convicted for complicity in slavery, as we reported back then. But now Van de Keuken’s campaign has led to at least one indictment, although probably not of the kind he was looking for: the Dutch Media Authority (Commissariaat voor de Media) has fined his broadcaster for illegal product placement.
Van de Keuken set out to raise awareness for the fact that the people harvesting cocoa, the raw material of which chocolate is made, are basically slaves. He did this by turning himself in after eating a bar of chocolate, making him complicit of slavery. The case was dismissed because the court held he was not an aggrieved party. Van de Keuken also produced his own brand of slave-free chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely, which he talked about on his show.
Product placement is illegal on Dutch television, and the Dutch Media Authority is the watchdog that tries to ferret out any instances of it. It does not matter whether the placed products are for a good cause, but the fact that petty issues trump major ones must be bitter for those who want to see new forms of slavery banned. The DMA had some pity though, and in recognition of “this unique and experimental program” reduced the fine to EUR 20,000, the lowest in its ‘range’.
(Via print magazine De Journalist. See also Molblog (Dutch).)