Why there’s nothing wrong with “adios amigos” tweet by KLM.

KLM worldcup tweet

KLM worldcup tweet

There’s a big debate going on amongst marketers about the stupidity of a tweet by KLM during the world cup. I have a different view. It wasn’t stupid. It was on-brand.

Humanization of Brands

I don’t get it. We’ve talked for about a decade now about the humanization of brands. We all shout out that there’s no B2C or B2B any longer but everything is H2H, human-to-human, peer-to-peer.

This consequently means brands and organizations start to act more and more as human beings, as people. Sure, you notice loads of faces on websites and other communication to show “the humanization of brands” but that’s merely “spielerei” and old school marketing trickery.

Humanization = to show personality

The humanization of brands comes down to showing a personality. Who are you? What do you stand for? How do you act? When one looks at KLM, they clearly are Dutch. It’s a genuine part of their DNA. And Dutch stands for innovation, entrepreneurship and being self-confident maybe slightly arrogant but bold and courageous without a doubt.

What you say? That’s right. Personality and identity of brands has less and less to do with logos, colours, fonts and other design elements.

Only boring personalities are loved by everyone

Just think about your social life. Do you really like everybody as much? How do you feel about politically correct people? Right, they are boring. They don’t inspire. But nobody really hates them. On the other hand, people with a vision and specific personality and identity are loved by some, hated by others.

Why the KLM tweet wasn’t stupid?

I truly believe the KLM tweet was beneficial. Apart from some Mexicans nobody was truly offended. On the other hand, it generated tons of Brand Mentions everywhere. If you didn’t know KLM before, you’ll probably do now. And do you truly believe Mexican people will not fly KLM anymore? They’ll probably do anyway. Because of the price, because of the service, because of social seat selection, etc.

So brands, it’s up to you: boring and indifference by all?
Or a human personality who’s hated by some, loved by others?

Open letter to the Mayor of Kortrijk. Forget Qortrijk, think #Qartrijk.

It recently came to me that the city of ‘Kortrijk’ (Belgium) investigates successful projects in cities with QR codes. Additionally, I heard they’re mainly investigating QR codes as a way to facilitate and foster “tourism” and/or “traders”. That’s a start. But that’s not Kortrijk. It’s good to look at best practices in other cities, true. But it’s even better to have the guts to run your own experiments, sparked off by your own imagination and taking advantage of in-city talents.

Hence, I’ve decided to write an open letter to the major so to hopefully influence the policy in this topic. Of course I should have written this letter in Dutch. But unfortunately most people on this blog come from an English-speaking region – despite the fact that my English isn’t very high standard…

So here we go, an open letter to the Mayor of Kortrijk. I know he understands English.

Dear Mayor,

I’m writing an open-ended letter to ask you to turn your Qortrijk into #Qartrijk for a little while.

But first things first. I’m still waiting for an elaborated policy for the coming years in my and your city. I truly do appreciate your efforts to first consult the inhabitants (not population as you call them in your communication…#tip). I do believe this is useful. However I doubt that this is the way that participative democracy ought to function / to be organized. My view is that leaders have to come up with a vision first. A vision which is consequently elaborated into actionable projects. And it’s exactly at this lowest level – actionable projects level – that participative democracy is at stake. I could be completely wrong. So I’m very much open to arguments in favor of an early integration of “the crowd” into policy decision-making.

10 engagements are a good start.

I know you started with 10 engagements for the city and its people. And I believe those are good principles. But those same guidelines are exactly why you should consider the QR-debate in a different perspective. Especially, the below:

  • A city that listens and converses”
    As stated above #KortrijkSpreekt is a great initiative, whether it’s been organized too early or not. However, I believe the city should also listen and converse in the digital world. That’s why in one way or another this letter should be picked up by you, read by you and given feedback to the author.
  • “A city that undertakes and shares”
    The whole QR debate can be seen in a different light, one that sees the project as an enabler to entrepreneurial initiatives and facilitates the art scene while improving the city as such.
  • “A city that moves, dares and changes”
    In relation to the QR-debate this could mean that you’re really eager to run innovative experiments. Why not use this technology so to improve the traffic experience for pedestrian?
  • “A city with a vibe and enthusiasm”
    There are many talented people in the city. Why not duplicate that through a project like #Qartrijk?

I’m about to cut the crap now dear Mayor, here’s what I actually wanted to say…

#Qartrijk as project for the city of Kortrijk a.k.a. Qortrijk

My idea of QaRt isn’t really new. The idea of #Qartrijk however is. To understand the concept of #Qartrijk, you should understand QaRt. And fortunately QaRt is very easy to undertand. It’s QR + ART. QR + ART = QART. There you go. But why?

QR codes have little value and won’t last forever

I’ve always seen QR codes as a temporary thing. It has little value and it won’t last. What’s even more, most people don’t actually know about QR codes. Yes, tech and marketing people know them. And from time to time tag them if they notice them anyway. But it’s not a mainstream thing. It will never be. Without further details here, allow me to just state that QR is only a little aspect in an evolutionary story called the mobile ecosystem.

QR as an artform

Regardless of the fact that most people see QR codes as messed up lines and dots, it inspires people to turn the code as such in a more artful experience. It’s all about design, one vital aspect of Kortrijk’s identity… For this reason (and the one above) I started “pinning” examples of Qart. It might be inspiring for the #Qartrijk experiment. Oh yes, what exactly is #Qartrijk?

#Qartrijk: QR meets Art through-out Kortrijk

#Qartrijk is all about QR in an artful / design way. But not only that. It’s about mobile technology experiments in an artful way that add value to the city. They make the city better. Imagine one experiment being a new lamppost which pedestrian can tag in order to get a faster green light. Of course the object “lamppost” is an art piece in itself. In this manner, one can dream of an organically grown art route of QR-inspired objects in the city.

Let’s run a small experiment!

Kind regards,


SoLoMo Democracy. On a local, social and mobile democracy.

Voting. Local elections.

Voting. Local elections.

I’m tripping over political ads these days. Those advertisements basically hold the city as a hostage. I don’t like them. I look forward to the elections though.

After all, election day marks the end of those blatant, flashy campaigns – as there’s only one political party that runs outdoor adverts without elections being near.

But that’s not really what I’m here for today. We obviously have no need for yet another “marketing article”, do we? So why am I writing then today? Why are these elections important? What are they about? And who’s getting my vote?

The City as the experimental playground for local, social and mobile democracy.

First things first. I vote in Kortrijk. A relatively small city in the far west of the country Belgium. This means I have to vote more than average. And it’s not even a right, it’s an obligation. To understand why I need to vote often, one must know the country’s structure. The structure of Belgium is not rarely bookmarked as the most complex and absurd in the world. It would take us to far however to explain that here. For those who’re interested, I previously posted an article that links to a video that explains Belgium in a fun and easy way.

Local Democracy

For now, I believe it is sufficient for you to know that this time we’re voting for the lowest jurisdictional level there is. And that’s exactly why I believe it’s important. The city’s competences are the most tangible of all. It matters topics people feel daily in their day-to-day life. Since it’s about themes they’re actually dealing with, it’s more likely that they develop their own ideas, vision and opinion about it.

Social Democracy

Having said this, one could think that today we are at the frontier to fully unroll the very concept of “democracy”.

Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. – Wikipedia, the most reliable peer-2-peer reviewed encyclopedia.

The world’s digital extensions allow us to easily implement the idea of ‘in which all eligible citizens have an equal say…’. Just think about a city that’s deeply engaged in social media listening and takes into account the elements it picks up there. To be clear, this social democracy is not just about social media. It means involvement of the citizens by the political representatives of which social media listening is only one of the means to do so. I also recommend having beers in local bars as a way to collaborate on the city plans and policies.

Mobile Democracy

As the world moves forward more and more activities become place-independent. People have higher mobility thanks to mobile devices and ditto technologies. However, there’s ambiguity in here:

“The more mobile our activities become, the less mobility we have.”

Just think about the many minutes (or even hours) you’re stuck in traffic – hardly moving, hardly being mobile.

The city as a small democratic entity must be the playground for the above evolution. It could mean that they take the front-seat with regards to mobile networks, mobile infrastructure, mobile technological innovations and use them to solve all mobility issues like traffic jams.

I do realize my vision upon “mobile” might be a little confusing. It’s not about mobile devices. It’s just another evolutionary story. For more details, please slide through the below slideshare keynote.

How do you feel about the SoLoMo Democracy?

Whispering Web – The Book.

I’ve made your life easier.

Well, I made it easier if you were to read everything ever posted on this blog. Consider how many clicks that’d take. At least a thousand, right?

Below is a book that collects all articles written in the first year of this blog. Reading all articles in this manner will take you about 70 clicks. I saved you just about 930 clicks. And I might argue that 930 clicks require at least 2 doctor visits because of a painful wrist. I’m not a doctor price specialist but I believe two visits quickly will cost you about 50 EUR or Dollars.

Hope you enjoy slide-reading through it.

Citizen journalism & Citizen service: Twitter-interview Belgian Minister.

A couple of days ago, a Minister from the Kingdom of Belgium organized a Twitter-interview. The “event” was organized in cooperation with a newspaper. As a result, a lot of Q-A occurred between the Minister and officially registered journalists of a publishing group. We do understand this of course. However, the “Twitter-interview-experiment” could have meant the start of “Citizen Journalism” and “Citizen Service”. The first being a form of journalism that enables anyone to take part in the news-making process. The latter being an informative, collaborative and conversation platform for governmental organizations.

Citizen journalism: Twitter-interview with Minister of Belgium

Citizen journalism: Twitter-interview with Minister of Belgium

The rise of the internet and the advent of Citizen journalism

With the rise of the internet, journalism gradually changed. Anyone could create articles through blogs. Everybody could be a journalist. They just had to start a blog and write articles. Today, there’s something even more interesting: Twitter.

Twitter-interview Belgian Minister

The interview on December 9 demonstrated that in fact anyone with a Twitter-account could have interviewed the Minister. Anyone was able to ask questions. Everybody was an interviewer.

Citizen service: Twitter as a tool for governments?

The event did not guarantee your question to be answered. Should there be a dedicated governmental service to make sure all citizen questions are answered?

Can Twitter be a useful medium for this? Can governments deploy it to further bridge the gap with their citizens? Is it useful to inform citizens about new laws via a twitter feed? Would it be beneficial to build up conversations about essential social themes over Twitter? Could Twitter bring the government closer to the people? Could this result in happier citizens and an improved quality of life?

Understanding Dutch? Read the Twitter-interview here.

Flanders & its strong extreme right political party. On the frequency aspects of media buying.

Belgium: the story

We live in a country that isn’t governed for a period of about 4 months now. Why is that so difficult? Just watch the below instructional video from Marcel Sel…

Flanders: strong right-wing

In the northern part of the country (Flanders, where they speak Dutch) inhabitants tend to vote for conservatives. But what’s even more striking, is the huge support for an extreme right political party – known as Vlaams Belang (=”Flemish importance”).

Why does this political organization receives so much support from that many inhabitants? Is it that all Dutch-speaking Belgians are a bit “fascist”? It cannot be, I cannot believe.

Next to loads of other aspects, we want to point out that this political party sets itself apart from the other parties not only by leaving the democratic spectrum behind but also by deploying a different media buying strategy. With their media strategy, they tend to be visible in the streets the entire year – not only in the run-up to elections such as the other political parties. Added to that, the party empowers that visibility in the streets by offering gadgets via a webshop (e.g.: branded sweaters, caps, cycling outfits, mouse pads, flags, etc.).

New campaign: the Republic of Flanders.

Belgium has struggled to form a government for about 4 months now – one political crisis follows the other. Main reason is the inability to make an agreement between the Dutch-speaking community and the French-speaking community.

Ended up at this point, Vlaams Belang decided to launch a campaign to demonstrate that the country is doomed (this has been their main argument for years). The solution, according to them, is to form the Republic of Flanders.

To convince people that the republic of Flanders is the means to the end of wealth, Vlaams Belang launched a campaign that consists of 500 20 sq.m. outdoor ads, window posters and a brochure of which more than 1 million copies are printed (to compare: the biggest newspaper in Flanders is printed on about 100 000 copies).

You might disagree on Vlaams Belang’s opinions, but you’ve got to give them at least one thing: it is the only political party that tries to establish a continuous conversation with the inhabitants of Flanders. By this I mean, they are active even without upcoming elections.

Is it strange then that they get a lot of votes at elections? We believe it’s not that strange.

Given the fact that most of the people don’t really care about ideology, they might vote for “a brand” that they are most familiar with. The brand they’re most familiar with might just be the brand that chooses to have a continuous advertising frequency strategy.

Extreme right political party in Belgium goes for continuity media buying approach in street advertising. Great idea in Belgium, a country where you have to vote every other day.

Extreme right political party in Belgium goes for continuity media buying approach in street advertising. Great idea in Belgium, a country where you have to vote every other day. Picture taken from my car while driving with my mobile device - my apologies for the bad photograph. However, all stories on this blog appear just because I ran up to something that triggered me into a reflection exercise... For this reason we believe it is allowed to put this fuzzy picture on the web ;-)

Frequency-based theory high percentage extreme right voters derived from “advertising science”

Political advertising and commercial advertising serve pretty much the same goal. To convince people to believe information provided via a communication channel.

Within the communication science, there seems to be a general consensus on how to reflect about the impact of frequency of media exposures. Here’s sort of how it works:

The media objectives of a media plan often call for some combination of reach and frequency. Media planners want the highest reach possible because that means more people will be exposed to the campaign, which should lead to more brand awareness, customer loyalty, sales, and so on. Media planners also seek high frequency if they feel that consumers will only take action (that is, buy the product) after multiple exposures to the campaign.

Media planners can choose among three methods of scheduling: continuity, flight, and pulse. Continuity scheduling spreads media spending evenly across months. The flight scheduling approach alternates advertising across months, with heavy advertising in certain months and no advertising at all in other months. Pulse scheduling combines the first two scheduling methods, so that the brand maintains a low-level of advertising across all months but spends more in selected months.

Reading the above theory on scheduling methods, we have to say we’re not quite sure which one the political party is using. However, others are using none – except when running into campaigns. In this manner the political brand appeals to people in the streets because they meet it all the time…

Think about it? Should other parties counter-feight this dominance by also buying media space more frequently?


Belgian election fever: reflections on extremism and their outdoor print ads.

Election in Belgium

Election in Belgium

Belgium is heading towards elections

Regardless of the fact that we are facing elections again in Belgium, I want to discuss the outdoor print poster of the right extremist party. For your information, they’re very nationalist. They rather see the northern (dutch-speaking) part of the country become a separate state instead of cooperating with the southern (french-speaking) part. Their driving factors are: a different language, a differently organized economic structure, money that flows from the north to the south, etc.

Language at the core of the party program

As stated above, language is a major point in their (ehrm) “ideology”. So they state in their posters: “Flemish people first” – written as “Vlamingen 1st”.

Problems with this statement

Either they make a dutch spelling mistake or they introduce English (1st, means first) into their campaign… Isn’t this a bit strange for a party who has Dutch language at the core of its existence? The ambiguity is clear to me…Empowering the stupidity of the right-wing.

A situation where I could have understand this approach

I could have understand this poster without worrying when the party had received list number 1 for the election. From a marketing point of view, the big 1 would have made clear that they were the first party on the election sheet. Nonetheless, they are not. They received number 7. The irony in here is that number 1 was granted to the flemish social-democrats – their ideologic counterpart.


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