Friday, November 26, 2010

Lowlands sold out!

The logo of the popular festival

I was 17 when I went to a festival for the first time. A friend of mine suggested to go to Lowlands Paradise, a 3-day festival with a lot of alternative music. I was a bit too young to completely give in to the filthy festival madness, but nevertheless I went there again the year after. And I went there the consecutive eleven years that followed.

When I look back at it, the festival was like a thread running throughout my entire youth. The first festival, the first time camping without my parents, being stoned for the first time, seeing the bands that would influence my taste in music. Throughout these years I've seen the music changing. I've experienced the acceptance of hip hop in the alternative scene, and a few years after the acceptance of house music (before lowlands it wasn't so common to like anything else than rock or punk). I've seen acts like Oasis, The Offspring, T. Raumschmiere and 2 many DJ's when they still played in a concert hall that was half full. But more important, the festival also functioned as a yearly get together for my group of friends from Alkmaar. I've met one of my best friends there. And a friend of mine met his current partner at Lowlands.

The first time they announced at the main stage (where the entire festival was gathered) that they were happy to have reached 10.000 visitors. Now, 17 years later, the festival is so popular that the 55.000 tickets were sold out in less than 2 hours! A lot of my colleagues actually laid down their work for 2 hours to click their mouse and make numerous phonecalls in order to get a ticket. A total collapse of the ticket site due to too many visitors made it impossible to get through. It wasn't easy but everybody who wanted a ticket actually got one. And I have one as well. Thanks to my colleague Daniel, who called with a friend from DDB who phoned about 200 times to sneak past the automatic answering machines. It's great to have seen a quality festival like Lowlands, growing to become the most popular festival of Holland.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

City of bikes

Amsterdam is bike city. In fact, there are almost as many bikes as inhabitants in Amsterdam; a total of 600.000! It's probably because with all these narrow streets, bridges, canals and one way streets it's the fastest form of transport withing the city centre. So the first thing you should buy in Amsterdam is a bicycle. But once you've been in New York for a while, you get used to walking long, very long distances. So I did that in any other city I lived in afterwards. Even in Amsterdam. I got used to that and I never really felt the need to buy a bike.

On Saturday we were on the way to a party and I had to sit on the back of a bike because I still haven't got one. My friend Remco was complaining about it. To him it's unthinkable that I haven't bought a bicycle in the half year since I've lived here. Then something sheer coincidental happened. A black guy at the corner heard his complaints and decided on the spot to offer his bike for sale. He assured us that it was in good state because he had it for years. Remco impulsively bought the bike for me. And not a minute later I was kicking the pedals of my new bike. The only problem with it is that the former owner broke the lock by accident but that's probably why he sold it for so cheap.

All these events were so coincidental, that it probably had to be that way. You could say that destiny talked me into buying a bike. Well, actually Remco talked me into it, but that doesn't matter.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Alkmaar (for a few hours)

Last week, after I had dinner in a restaurant with Ann-Christin, a former Miami Ad School student who was in Amsterdam, my ATM pass got swallowed by the machine. So I had to run home to get money with my Belgian pass. The day after it seemed that the Dutch pass was blocked because of a skimming-threat. Because my bank account is still on the address of my parents, I didn't receive a letter about it. But they did send the new pass to my parents house. So that's a nice occasion to visit my parents again. And therefore I left work earlier to go to Alkmaar. In a few hours I'm going to leave again. It's too short, but I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Something as simple as a story can give a product the extra benefit it needs. In a way that's how advertising works. And that's where good copywriting comes in. This weekend I went to an exhibition called W8N8, which was organised by a former colleague of mine, Miranda. It was located in one of the waiting rooms of the central station, and there were DJ's playing. Now that's what I call a brilliant combination.

As a real copywriter, I didn't only look at the photographs, but I read the background of the photographers and the meaning of their pictures as well. Something as simple as a photograph of a white bridge all of a sudden becomes more interesting when you read that this bridge was brand new at the time. And that the photographer's goal was to immortalize this clean bridge. Because half a year later, it was already full of grafitty. All of a sudden something as simple as a bridge becomes very interesting.

Even food can become more interesting with stories. Yesterday my colleagues and I had dinner with our client IKEA at a place called Di Gigi. His 'restaurant' simply consisted of a big kitchen in the back of his house. There, the Italian Gigi cooked and served the food. And with every dish he stood beside our large table and told a story. About how he brought his paprika and other vegetables straight from Italy in his bus, how he prepaired all the food, at which private vineyard he got his red wine. Sometimes the stories were a bit too long. Because after hearing for 10 minutes about the history, the origin and the preparation of a pumpkin pudding, you're craving to try the little piece of delicacy. But it didn't matter, because it did make the already delicious food even better. Gigi is the living proof that there's still hope for long copy. Numerous pages of it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Me too advertising

What? Another flashmob for T-mobile?

Funny how you can always spot certain trends in advertising. The trends usually start with a great idea, and everybody trying to copy this great idea because they think they can win an award as well. Miami Ad School graduate and my former coach Menno Kluin set a trend with a 3D typography campaign, many more 3D typo ads followed. In Holland the funny Albert Heijn commercials are now cloned by other supermarkets. New technology can also start a trend: last year it was augmented reality, this year it's raining chatroulette campaigns and projections on buildings-campaigns.

And then there's the flashmob advertising. This hype started with the famous T-mobile dance, and many many more me too-campaigns followed. Eager advertisers and agencies who tried desperately to get a piece of the success with their own half ass-version of the flashmob. Nobody really succeeded. And then Saatchi London comes with...another flasmob for T-mobile. At first I thought: oh no guys, don't even bother. But I was surprised when I saw it. It's executed so good, produced with such love for details, that they get away with it. It's still not as good as the first one, but to get more than a million hits in three days, that's a big accomplishment already. Once again, this is a proof that good execution is just as important as a good idea.