July 9, 2013

The Dutch love Lucie on their satellite navigation

Filed under: Automobiles,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:45 am

I’ve spotted a trend amongst my Dutch friends who own cars. They use TomTom sat nav, incidentally a well-known Dutch brand, but prefer to drive to the soothing sounds of the Belgian Dutch (notice I didn’t say Flemish) female voice over the ‘standard Dutch’ voice from the Netherlands, also known as ABN (‘Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands’).

The reasons they gave me include “Belgian Dutch is sexier”, “The Dutch woman sounds depressed” and “I can understand the Belgian Dutch pronunciation more clearly”. Even a quick lurk at some Dutch language forums shows that ‘Lucie’ (The Dutch Belgian voice — here she is for real, scroll down a bit) is considered quite the favourite. Her voice is ‘warm’, while the Dutch voice is more staccato (‘choppy’) in my humble driving opinion. As for the depressed bit, the Dutch voice lowers in tone at the end of sentences as if she were bored telling you were to go all the time. It could be my foreign ears, it could be my friends’ predilection for the exotic, who knows.

Lucie, or Hildegard, which is her real name, recorded the TomTom voice in just one afternoon and earned back in the early noughties no more than 450 euro. Anyone want to chime in as to why they like Lucie better or why they would actually rather use the Dutch voice or even the male equivalent? Do tell.

(Photo Photo of TomTom by LettError, some rights reserved)

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July 3, 2012

The Dutch-Québec connection

Filed under: Food & Drink,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:22 pm

Any links to be made between Dutch things and Québec ones are just me thinking that some things could be Dutch even if they aren’t. There’s nothing Dutch about the Keurig coffee maker, it comes from the US. However, ‘keurig’ in Dutch means ‘proper’, ‘neat’ and ‘trim’. I just have this feeling there could be a connection.

A Dutch oven is not an oven but a pan (duh), although the one I use, called a braadpan is apparently the same thing. These pots are made to fry things in as well, and then let them simmer. I had to get used to that as I always fry things in a frying pan first.

As for other Dutch things that people either know is Dutch or at least know they are European, Heineken beer is always one of them, as is TomTom navigation systems. TomTom apparently doesn’t have the best customer service in Canada, and charge extra for a bunch of things that Garmin (US) provides for free. I use my smartphone for navigation, while nobody does that here because a) no smartphone b) no mobile Internet (it’s like 45 CAD a month as compared to 5-10 euro a month in the Netherlands).

I also heard that the city of Montréal wants to move its prostitutes from the usual downtown spot to an industrial area like the Dutch do, called the ‘tippelzone’ (roughly, ‘hook up zone’). A ‘tippelzone’ is a municipally controlled area of town where prostitution is tolerated. The problem is, the Netherlands has tons of problems with theirs, and in Montréal, industrial businesses don’t want to be associated with prostitution — it’s bad for business. Hookers are very scared of working where the police wouldn’t normally come to help them if something went wrong.

I’m keeping my eyes open for any other connections.

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November 24, 2011

Bert and Ernie will guide you there

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:52 am

TomTom records Bert and Ernie’s navigation voices from AmsterdamAdBlog on Vimeo.

True, after the ones with John Cleese and Darth Vader and Yoda, the format is getting repetitive. The adverts are long, but Bert and Ernie make it work for me. This one was created by Pool Worldwide, based in Amsterdam for Dutch product TomTom.

I heard a story (by story I mean I have no facts to back it up) from a Dutch friend that the product was named TomTom because in the United States, obviously their main target market, you cannot have a product named after a person, like Bob or Michael. Feel free to comment on this.

I’m not a fan of the TomTom anymore for a few reasons: it totally went blank on me once as I drove into Germany. Every other European country was on that thing, but German vanished. Bad road trip.

My smart phone does a better, more accurate job. Sure, I have make sure the phone stays plugged in while driving, but the instructions were always on time and the female Dutch voice didn’t sound like she wanted to be euthanized. I actually have several Dutch friends who use the Flemish voice on their TomTom’s because that’s how depressing she sounds.

But then there’s always Ernie and Bert.

(Link: www.amsterdamadblog.com)

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June 4, 2009

TomTom GPS device goes girly

Filed under: Fashion,Gadgets by Orangemaster @ 10:12 am

We’ve all heard men and women drive and read maps differently (both have their faults) and that despite all the business talent out there, gagdets are still mostly marketed to men. When electronic products are aimed at women, oblivious marketing people make the thing pink and call it a day.

Dutch GPS brand TomTom decided to jump on the marketing to women bandwagon and came up with the White Pearl, based on the TomTom ONE IQ Routes edition, but a bit different. It’s more luxurious and has ‘special content’ for women.

I’ve used a TomTom often because when I passed my Dutch driving licence this year, we had to use one as part of the exam. By the way, they axed that part of the exam, as we memorised the three routes and ignored the GPS. Basically, driving instructors all bought thousands of TomToms for nothing.

The White Pearl has a matching silk pouch that fits easily into a handbag. It has a ‘Help Me!’ menu and even tells you what lane to be in when things get hairy. The ‘special content’ includes categories that are in English in the Dutch version as well such as “Places to be seen”, “Shop ‘til you drop” and “Everyday fashion”.

The look appeals to me, no question. The content is clearly for “girly girls”, the kind that can’t even a change bike tire and wear high heels all the time. At least, that’s the very icky vibe I get from it. The special content I find insulting and useless, and I know my Dutch girlfriends will totally agree. And they’re the kind of women that drive big motorcycles, kick board of director ass and still look cocktail ready come happy hour.

Of course, the darn thing is more expensive than the regular model: 199 euro instead of about 120-150 euro, and will be available in mid-June. So I’m not sold at all, I find it insulting at first glance, but I would accept it as a gift.

And then the jokes:
– Does it feature a man’s voice that says, “Hey doll, fix your hair and let’s roll!”
– Turn right! NO THE OTHER RIGHT!

UPDATE: Marketing to women means finding out from women what they want, not guessing or letting men fill in the blanks. It remains a mystery why something so simple is so difficult to understand.

(Link and photo: rtl.nl, gadgetrider.eu)

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