Friday, March 30, 2007

Anti spammed

I'm two weeks back in Holland and my life already seems like it was when I lived here. From Monday till Wednesday I worked in Utrecht for Energize. On Thursday I finally got my telephone back from the repair-shop. I had to get back to the store because my simcard was missing. Besides, all phone numbers and messages that I collected since last month were erased. But let's look at the bright side: the '1' button that was broken is now fixed.

Last week I also got an e-mail about the television campaign that they're going to make at Duval Guillaume. Sadly, nobody responded. Another mail about the publication of my anti-spam campaign also resulted in nothing. Was there something wrong?

A quick e-mail to my former roommate and planning trainee Tim Gregory solved this mystery: the e-mails fell into the trap of the Duval Guillaume spamfilter. How this could happen stays a mystery. I mean, I didn't talk about African business proposals, penis enlargement systems or fake Rolexes. Maybe the words 'spam ads' triggered the filter to discard my e-mails. Anyway, it's kind of ironic: I made a campaign for a spamfilter and now I'm the victim of a spamfilter myself!

Tonight I'm going to have a drink in Amsterdam. A group of young creatives are coming together to get drunk, brag about their work and show off their trendy shoes and glasses. I'm looking forward to see this group of advertising addicts again.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back to work already

The beautiful office of Energize

I haven't had a lot of vacation, but it has been enough for me. On Friday I went to Energize, an online agency in Utrecht that I sometimes work for from abroad. I presented some work that I've made at the Miami Ad School and they asked me immediately if I could work on Monday. It's a cool agency to work at, I need some money for Stockholm and vacation makes me lazy anyway. So I didn't even think twice about working there.

So I'm back to work again. It was hard to get up at 6:30 again, because I'm not used to getting up early. But somehow getting up early and having resposibilities also give me energy again.

And somehow being busy also draws other work like a magnet. This afternoon, my former collegue Peter mailed me for a job, which I had to decline because he was in a hurry with it and it was too big for me to do on the side. And in the evening I got an e-mail from Duval Guillaume that a project for a TV-campaign is going to start. Conference call tomorrow morning at 11:30. Who needs vacation anyway?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Shelter campaign

Poster number 1: Woman with dog

Poster number 2: Sleeping

Poster number 3: Old guy

Sometimes you just need to be really really patient with showing work you've made at the Miami Ad School. When you make your new work public, everybody can see your idea so everybody can steal it. Stef & Yona, a very creative young team from Holland, found that out when they put an idea for the One Show-competition on their blog too soon (see ).

By the way, the NRDC-case could have been a bizar coincidence. But this incident made me even more careful with showing new ideas. The Shelter campaign above was already made last quarter. It was originally made for the D&AD Student competition and the deadline was yesterday. So I had to wait more than three months to put this work on my blog, aarchh!

My art director Alex Carls and I had this idea already in the beginning of the quarter. After that we kept finetuning it for two full months. We searched photographs, made our own photographs, made new layouts, wrote headlines, did reshoots, wrote more headlines and every week we showed different versions of our ads to our teachers at Jung von Matt. It was like polishing a raw diamond. But we both knew right from the start that this idea was worth sweating for.

We were right. The campaign already won a big silver star at the school's exhibition. The work is not only on the desk of D&AD-judges, but it has been sent to the Clio awards as well. So anyone who thinks of using a similar idea must be out of his mind.

I always assume creatives are too proud to copy work from others. That they always want to think of their own ideas. I think that counts for most creatives, but unfortunately there are always exceptions. Look at the following ad: . This ad has been made in the time when a two color-printer was still an awesome invention. Dutch readers among us will probably remember an ADCN copy award winner of a couple of years ago that looks suspiciously like this one. Would Neil French know that a recycled version of his idea won a prestigious prize in Holland?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happiness and misery on one extraordinary night

Doing nothing has never been something I'm very good at. So also this vacation I'm not exactly glued to the television. I divide my time in arranging necessary financial stuff, learning Swedish and meeting friends.

Saturday was everything but a normal evening. A friend of mine, Dave, proposed to his girlfriend on a party he organised. In front of all the guests (which included the family of his girlfriend) he performed a striptease for her and had the engagement ring in his underpants. I was too late to see it, because I first had to meet some friends in Alkmaar and then I had to cycle for half an hour to get there. When I arrived Dave told me I was too late, but that it doesn't matter because his girlfriend said yes.

I kind of underestimated the Dutch weather that evening, because after the party I had to go home again by bike. I was warned already that the weather would be bad. Now I thought I'd be able to manage it, but I forgot that 'bad weather' in Holland means: 'hell on earth'. Rain fell from the sky like a cold shower and on top of that I had the cold storm against me. Regularily it was even faster to get off the bike and walk. So there I walked soaking wet on a bicycle-road along dark meadows and the ice cold rainstorm in my face. For about two hours! I'm lucky to be in a good physical condition, because otherwise I would have collapsed before I got back to Alkmaar. No, I'm not exaggerating. I've had some bad bicycle trips before, but this was probably one of the worst ever. Could it be because I'm not used to the Dutch rain climate anymore?

Although I was as wet as someone who just jumped in a pool with his clothes on, the trip didn't make me ill. I might be the living prove of what scientists already know: that you can't catch a cold from being in the cold alone. Anyway, I learned my lesson. I'm staying inside with a warm cup of tea as long as this stormy, rainy weather continues.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


My new apartment in Sweden

A part of going to another country is the anticipation of going there: reading about the country, looking at photographs or DVD's. Travel agencies know that and that's why travel brochures are as thick as a book.

Last week I had some time to look up some things about Stockholm, my next quarter away destination. I learned that it's the biggest city of Sweden, that there's a peninsula in the middle called Gamla Stan and that because of all the water it is known as 'The Venice of the North' (which is also the nickname of Amsterdam and Hamburg, it seems that every city with a lot of water gets that name).

I also asked the adress of the place and my Italian friends (who live there now) also sent me a picture. Somehow looking up your new adress on the map or seeing a picture makes the place more tangible. You get the feeling that you know exactly where you go to and that you already know the place a little bit. But when you finally get there, everything you thought of is totally different. It was like that in Hamburg, it was like that in Brussels and I know already that Stockholm will be a big surprise for me. But until I get on the plane, I'm enjoying every second of being back in Holland again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Back in Holland

It's amazing how fast you go to another country. And it's even more amazing how far Belgium always seemed when I lived in Holland. I went back to Holland on monday morning and about 3,5 hours later I was in Alkmaar -that small city near Amsterdam- again.

This time it's not as surprising anymore to be back. 2,5 months isn't that long. I'm not very surprised to see windmills and bicycles anymore. But after being in a dirty city like Brussels for such a long time, I do realize how beautiful Holland really is. I walked over a wooden bridge and looked over a big, green park on the side of the canal and in the distance there's a windmill. It's all really quiet. Which is also the reason why I can't stay here very long.

Everything but quiet is the nightlive in Alkmaar. A couple of years ago, there's wasn't a lot to do here on Tuesday and Wednesday. But now hanging in the pub seem to have become a trend here. I can go out any day of the week and still meet friends of mine. Yesterday I had a little rest but tonight there's a good opportunity to go. One of our local soccer clubs AZ is going to play against Newcastle for the UEFA-cup. I'm not very into soccer, but I'm always in for a good party. Let's hope they win.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Last weekend in Brussels

Yigit and me at The Fuse

I was going to dedicate this post about the fact that I had a good time in Brussels and expecially in Duval Guillaume, but that it just isn't the most interesting city to go partying. But recently I found out that saying that would do this city a little short.

Yigit, a Turkisch co-student of the Miami Ad School thought Brussels is by far the best city for a party. And he could know because he's even more into underground music than I am. He said that since he's been here, he has seen more interesting DJ's than in any other city during one quarter. And when I look back at it, it's true.

The thing is: here you can't go out without a plan. All the clubs are too seperated from each other to go from one place to another and you have to pay entrance everywhere. So if it sucks, you can't go anywhere (and still, a lot of clubs do suck). I think I'm pretty spoiled because in my place of birth Alkmaar and Hamburg you can just go barhopping until you find the most interesting place.

Yesterday I was in a club that was so great that I regretted having discovered it so late. It is called Structure Beton and I think it's by far the best club in Brussels. It's filthy, anarchistic and it's right under a car parking. In other words: perfect for a good party. And there certainly was a good party last night. The music of breakcore-DJ Bogdan Raczynski was like a tornado of breaks, bleeps and other unidentifyable noises. The people at the stage were dancing and jumping throughout the whole set. I haven't seen an audience this enthusiastic since I saw Ceefax Acid Crew in Pudel, Hamburg.

Friday I also had a good party, so on the whole this weekend has been the best since I've been in Brussels. I packed my bags already and tomorrow morning I'm going back to Holland. It was a pleasure to be in Brussels and it was even a bigger pleasure to work at Duval Guillaume. In April, a new adventure is waiting for me in Stockholm.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Car review

"He's outside," our planner Tim screamed from the balcony at Duval Guillaume, "if you run there you might still catch him". Daniel and I ran with loads of print-outs and sketches under our arms ready for a review, but our creative director peter was about to leave.

"Robin, you take the sketches", Daniel said as we stood in front of a street that was wet from the rain, "I'm only wearing socks so I can't get out". I went to the car. It was about to leave and already running. Peter was sitting in the front and I showed him some print-outs of ideas for one of the biggest assignments we had so far in the agency. It is so big that an entire squad of planners and account directors already worked on it for months. There has already been a review but this moment was the last chance to present our work because it was our last day at Duval Guillaume.

I got some feedback about the layout. So I got back to my art-director, who was standing in the frontway on his socks and told him about the changes that had to be made. Daniel had some questions back, so I went back to Peter to ask him Daniels question. And then I went back to my shoeless art-director again to give him the feedback. Then we knew what to do and the car left. Review was over.

It was one of the fastest and craziest reviews I've ever had. I've heard about the elevator pitch already, where you hold a presentation as long as the elevator keeps going up, but the 'car review' was new for me. Anyway, it was a crazy last day at the agency. We had to work really hard, but right now it's all over. I'm not going to see this great agency for a long time. It was a memorable last day, that's for sure.

I'm only here in Brussels this weekend and I'm going to enjoy the weekend Robin-style: by partying. Tonight there's a party in the centre and at Saturday there's a breakcore DJ called Bogdan Razcynski in a place called Structure Beton. I think I kind of deserved a little party. As I always say: working hard, party hard. And because I've worked hard already, partying hard is all that is left.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


My quarter in Brussels is almost done. Next week I'll be in Holland again to have a nice, long vacation. And after that I go to my next quarter away location. This week I finally got an official e-mail: I go to Stockholm, Sweden.

I knew it for a long time already, but the Miami Ad School always saves the official confirmation until the last moment. Oh well, it kind of keeps it exciting. The decision to go to Stockholm was actually an easy one. I heard good things about the classes in Sweden, I already wanted to go there and this quarter was my last chance (agencies in Stockholm are closed in the summer) and I got the chance to rent the appartment of my good friend Salvatore when he leaves. Sometimes you don't make decisions, but decisions are made for you.

Until then I still have a lot of work to do. Although we asked for an official briefing-stop from the 1st of March because we still wanted to execute some work, the agency put us up to our necks with assignments. Which actually means that they want us to make as much work as possible, so I see that as a really big compliment.

This has been a really good quarter. But crazy enough there's not a lot of work executed for our portfolio. The reason is that in an agency (this counts for every agency) it depends too much on politics and luck whether your ideas are executed or not. No matter how good your ideas are. It doesn't really matter, because Daniel and I gave it all And we proved that together we're able to make good work in an agency that's high on the world's top ranking. Anyway, Stockholm is going to be half internship/half school so I think it's going to be a real portfolio booster.

Friday, March 02, 2007

What the f**k?

Police tape blocking the entrance of my apartment

I know I´m predjudiced about Brussels because I´ve only been in the centre and I´ve read already that there are really good parts of Brussels. I believe all that. But I still think Brussels is a strange city.

Yesterday I came back to my apartment and there was police tape around my building. It even blocked the entrance. So what's that all about? I still haven't found out what happened. Is it a joke? I can't imagine anybody here having that kind of humour. Did somebody got killed in my apartment? I will probably never find out.

I'm not saying it's completely unsafe here, but a lot of incidents in the last months led me to think that you should be careful. There's something strange about Brussels. At least in the centre where I live. The tape around my building kind of symbolizes that. You can see something bad has happened, but you never find out excactly what it is. This might sound a little paranoid. But hey, it's better to be paranoid than to be sorry.

UPDATE: Saturday morning firemen took plastic canvasses off a scaffold that is attached to the building. So I guess the tape was there because of the danger of falling canvas.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


There's more in a dayjob for a creative then just think of funny ideas for commercials. Besides brainstorming, you have to present your ideas, defend your ideas and change your work after the feedback of the clients.

Today we had three reviews on one day. Now reviews normally shouldn´t drive me crazy. But then the following happens: you're trying to get all the work finished in time, but the meeting is cancelled or rescheduled to later because not everybody is there. And when you're in the meeting showing all the work, suddenly all sorts of mobile phones start to go off so you have to postpone your presentation. After the review, we hear that we have to adjust an ad because the client didn't like the layout.

It's normal in an agency, but on some days the chaos just gets too much. In the Miami Ad School students work longer than in most agencies, but you know excactly when your classes start and then the teachers are going to look at your work. And you also have the freedom of perfectionizing your work without clients intervening in it. I think it's inevitable that things run a little chaotic in an agency, but it's really exhausting if you want to do things right.

In the end it's all worth it. That's because you're making work that goes further than just your portfolio. It's really cool to make a campaign that clients like, gets produced and will be sent to award shows. Only the road to get there is a bit harder.