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Opinions about Valentine’s Day seem to be extremely polarized. Those in relationships cannot pass up the opportunity to embrace the holiday, while those who are single are quick to point out the superficiality of the corporate holiday. I know what you are thinking, another cynical rant about a holiday created for people looking for fulfillment in chocolates and flowers. Although I have my criticisms about the consumerism associated with such a holiday, I cannot dispute the positivity that Valentine’s Day brings to many around the world.

“The Hallmark Holiday”

Valentine’s Day is often criticized as a “Hallmark Holiday,” a colloquialism commonly used in the US to describe holidays created primarily for commercial purposes. Yet this critique, in my opinion, brings nothing new to the conversation. What is more interesting is why much of the world has chosen to adapt such a holiday if it is so often referred to as superficial and consumerist? It is true that Valentine’s Day has historical roots dating back to A.D. 270, yet I doubt many can recall the religious history. But rather, most people identify the holiday as a day spent at your local florist, an evening at a romantic yet expensive restaurant, with a side of one too many chocolates.

Materialism or Self-Indulgence?

Despite many previous bloggers attempt to undermine Valentine’s Day by pointing out the materialism it inherently brings, much of the world still feeds into the holiday every year. One must ask themselves is this the fault of corporations manipulating us into “buying” into the holiday? Or do people genuinely enjoy the self-indulgence and satisfaction that such a holiday promotes? Have corporations simply filled the self-satisfying void that has been developing since the 17th century, when the first Valentine’s Day cards were shared?

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The Americanization of Valentine’s Day

It is not only Americans that have “bought” into this holiday. Singaporeans are among the biggest spenders on Valentine’s Day with 60% admitting they would spend between $100-$500 on the holiday. The holiday is celebrated in Israel, Lebanon, South Korea, Japan, and India, yet European and American media has influenced many of these countries. This has caused controversy in countries such as Pakistan, India, and Malaysia after the holiday gained widespread recognition from the influence of MTV and other popular television programs. Thus, creating tensions with the beliefs of their respective governments. Perhaps a fresher perspective on the debate of Valentine’s Day is not whether it is a consumerist holiday, as most would agree. But rather, is the spread of modern Valentine’s Day caused by the Americanization of our current global environment?

Of course, this is just one opinion. This is simply an observation as to why such a highly criticized holiday is globally accepted, and embraced in many cultures. Perhaps American and European media has sensationalized a holiday that once existed from religious roots, but now exists as a corporate holiday? Perhaps people are inherently looking for self-indulgence? It is not for me to say, I’m just looking for an alternative perspective so you don’t finish reading and think, “ugh, not another Valentine’s Day blog.”

Written by Ally Martin

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When does posting a photo on Instagram cross the line? Is it the perception of the person sharing the images, or is it the perception of the followers? Instagram as you all know is a social media platform where individuals can share images of whatever they like… with some restrictions of course. However, when is it too far for a woman to post an image on Instagram?

When does a picture cross the line and become inappropriate?

This debate started out during a friendly conversation I was having with two friends, as we spoke about an instance when one of us felt uncomfortable sharing a picture because of the worry that it was sending the wrong idea to the public. Women have been seen as objects and are often sexualized, even when they don’t necessarily intend to be. Instagram allows male nipples to be shown but not female nipples, and to many this seems unfair. Of course, pornography is not allowed on Instagram but a female nipple is different. Is it society that takes an image and sexualizes it? Or is it the women posting the image? Who can be sure?

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When an image of the female or male body is seen with minimal clothing it usually becomes sexualized. There are those who would argue both sides to the story. If a woman is posting an image with minimal clothing “she is asking for it?” or perhaps it is society that isn’t ready to view the female body without sexualizing it. Of course one does not want to send the wrong message, but why does the message have to be distorted into something it is not. Perhaps it’s time for us to evolve and realize that the human body is a beautiful machine, and rather than sexualizing a bare body, it should be respected.

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To some it seems unfair that women’s nipples are banned on Instagram while men’s nipples are not. This is the double standard reality we live in. A nipple is a nipple no matter what body it comes from. All people should feel comfortable to free the nipple, while reading the context of the situation, no matter what sex they are. Maybe it is society who needs to mature and stop sexualizing the female body. According to Dr. Stephen De Wit, a Toronto-based sexologist “men have been conditioned to see the female breast and nipples as sexual accessories”. Yet, this has not always been the case.

blog-da3In Ancient Greece anyone could walk around naked without being mocked or given a second look. In Ancient times, naked bodies were not looked upon in a sexualized way, especially women’s body. Throughout time and history something has changed in the way we see the naked body; and now when we see someone wearing minimal clothing we immediately inclined to sexualize them. More often women than men.

Social media content and its impact at work

Over the years Facebook has been a great database to collect images, interests, and statements from users all over the world. This is a jackpot for companies to do some research on the private lives of potential employees. Like Facebook, Instagram can also be used as a platform for businesses to see what a potential candidates are doing in their private lives. That is why people must be careful when it comes to posting images and statements on these platforms. Marketing yourself via these platforms may coincide with the way you want to be viewed through the public eye. Of course, it is crucial to be aware of what you post on Instagram, but should women be scrutinized when they post an image of themselves in a bikini on a beach when men are not scrutinized to the same extend? A picture is a visual story and the body is a vessel in which one can tell a story, it’s not just a sexual object.

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Many would argue that it would be a shame to miss a job opportunity because of an inappropriate picture. But who is to judge whether a picture is inappropriate or not? Maybe the message the viewer is receiving isn’t exactly what the sender intended. It is often hard to find a middle ground between what should be posted, because everyone’s views are different. In regards to marketing yourself on Instagram, it is important to be conscious of how you present yourself. If you are looking for a job or looking for a career change, it is probably important that your social media accounts are not crossing the company’s perception of what is considered inappropriate. The next question to consider is whether you even want to work for a company that sexualizes images?

Women should have the same freedom as men when it comes to posting an image. The next step is nudity, but there is still much progress needed before nudity will be considered art, or a vessel to tell a human story. Having that choice is important, but we must use it with responsibility. Society is not ready to see an image of a naked body, male or female, and not react in a way that sexualizes the human body.

Written by Daniella Janis

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We are recent marketing graduates and proud MAA members. Last year, we met each other while organizing the MAA Student Start-Up Battle. We had so much fun organizing this two-day event, that we were a bit disappointed when it ended. fitbase-9We graduated, we are officially no longer students anymore: time for the real adult life! But not for us.. we still wanted to discover the world, and at the same time, get inspired by the Dutch entrepreneurs abroad. That’s when the idea of Business Without Borders was born: a combination between our wish to travel and our shared interest in Dutch entrepreneurship. We approached Dutch businesses which expanded to Asia, Dutch embassies, and communities of Dutch people all over the world. When we left for Japan, on Nov 12th, we were about to visit 20 companies in 10 different countries. 

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The first company we visited was G-Star in Tokyo. With only Japanese employees, our prepared questions about the “Dutch atmosphere” felt a bit stupid. However, the Japanese turned out to be really happy to receive us. The next visit wasn’t only a company visit (at Royal Asscher Diamonds), but also a sushi diner with the CEO.

tokyo-royalasscher13In South-Korea, we saw a different side of doing business in Asia while visiting a start-up. In China, a young festival organizer had time to drink a coffee with us and talk about the up and downsides of being a foreign entrepreneur. In Taipei we went back to our Amsterdam roots and did a bike-tour with VanMoof. Would we have ever done something abroad like this, if we didn’t start Business Without Borders? Don’t think so!

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Although it’s not a profitable business yet (we still have to pay for our own Asia trip), it is definitively a unique experience. Every Dutch business and entrepreneur gives us new inspiration to start our own business abroad as well. In Vietnam an IT company makes websites for customers in The Netherlands. While in Cambodia, a Dutch girl is trying to help the local people  by offering them a job, and long term hopefully financial security. Next week, we will visit a stroopwafel bakery in Bangkok and in a month, Dutch trainees at ING Singapore will show us around. So, there are still a lot of new experiences to come. Are you curious about Dutch businesses abroad as well? Or maybe looking for an internship at a Dutch business in Asia?

Follow us on Facebook (Business Without Borders) and check out our website: www.businesswithoutborders.nl.

Guest article by Soraya and Maxime

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According to Douglas Adams’ book the answer to all the ultimate questions of life, the universe, and everything else, is simply 42. Unfortunately, reality isn’t so uncomplicated. Many experts have compiled significant research on how the universe began, how it works, and what it is. It appears to be a never ending story. The more we learn about the universe, the more questions arise. Experts such as Albert Einstein “the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know”, and Socrates “I know that I know nothing” have pointed this out. There is one thing we do know: our world is getting more complicated all the time. As recently as the 20th century people only had a black and white television with one or two senders; there are now over a hundred senders you can chose from. Not to mention all the additional options like cable TV, HD, Netflix, cinemas and many, many more. Between black and white there are now over fifty shades of grey and billions of different colors-  literally, for television, but also figuratively, for life in general. As the world around us becomes more complex, the amount that we can really understand about it decreases. Even experts agree on knowing too little, it’s no surprise that information overload gives millennials stress and difficulty to make decisions (choice overload).

blog-knowledge-2Too many choices can lead to alcoholic beverage consumption as seen here

Black boxes

In the 1980s, students with a basic education learned how computers worked, in terms of binary code. Today, the majority of people have simply accepted that they do not understand the technological explanations behind many things they use in their everyday life, such as computers and smartphones. It would be impossible to keep up with the constant stream of new information. This creates black boxes, which are complex structures that we do not understand even if they are explained to us (1). We know their input and their output, but what happens in between or how it works is commonly not understood.

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So What Do We Know?

We understand our world through narrative fallacies. From events of the past, we try to understand the world and expectations for the future, these make up our norms (2). We constantly fool ourselves by constructing these subjective narratives, and believing that they are true. Kahneman calls this the illusion of understanding, because if it makes sense to us in the moment, we think we understand its entirety. We think the earth is round and we turn around the sun, but many years ago humans thought the earth was flat. They believed this was the truth, and they believed they fully understood the complexities of the world. Taleb uses the example of the Black Swan in his book. It was always assumed that all swans were white, until the first black swan was discovered in the seventeenth century. This changed the understanding of swans, but also a little bit of the world. Since our perceptions of the world change every day, and is influenced by our past, how do we know ifexperts are saying the right things? Will we still agree with the statements of these experts in the future?

The Chicken or the Egg

The black swan theory is a rejection of the cause-and-effect principle. Humans automatically search for causality. I assume everyone has thought about the chicken or the egg causality dilemma, at least once in their life. To ancient philosophers, the question about the first chicken or egg also evoked questions about how life and the universe began, the causality of life. There are many theories like Darwin’s theory and religion stories, such as the bible, that try to explain our existence. Our brain is trained to link pieces together to form a causal story, even if there is no reliable link between the pieces. Today, we might believe that Darwin’s theory is true, but who knows what we may think about it in centuries to come?

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Adams said it was the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. He meant it as a joke, to take reductionism and accuracy in science with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, geeks have since wasted years and massive effort trying to ascribe some deep, symbolic significance to the number and its occurrences. Recently, a new book came out that shows how the number 42 has played a significant role in history- did someone say causality-effect? There is a whole website dedicated to spurious correlations like this, so if you like random facts you should definitely check this out!  http://www.tylervigen.com
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“The only thing that is constant is change”, as stated by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. As the world is getting more complex, more black boxes will arise. This keeps us going in a visual circle. It doesn’t make us any wiser since what we see as a fact today, could be seen as an extreme mistake tomorrow. Experts are just as human as us, and human make errors. The lesson I would like to give the readers of this blog is to think for yourself and be your own expert in life. “In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future” (Hoffer, 1973). Not only do companies adapt or die, but people should as well. Learning isn’t part of life. Learning is life.

Written by Romy van Baarsen

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Last year, you probably played a game or watched a movie in 3D. But it seems like 3D is already out of date and virtual reality is the next big thing.  The developments around virtual reality are gigantic and the possibilities are endless. For instance, in China it is already possible to pay online with virtual reality. You only have to nod to confirm the payment. That seems pretty handy, right?

The next big advertising medium

Virtual reality is able to mimic the physical reality by replicating images, sounds, scents, feelings, and even taste. It does not go unnoticed by marketers. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, called virtual reality the next big advertising medium and states that it is a whole new communication platform. The biggest power of virtual reality as an advertising medium, is the long-term impact. The human brain remembers approximately 10% of what you read, 20% of what you hear, but 90% of you do and experience. Indicating that commercials with a virtual reality experience have the potential to be more memorable than traditional commercials.

Some examples of virtual reality for commercial purposes

A lot of brands have already experimented with virtual reality, and for some branches it has proved to be especially useful. For example, the real estate branch: with virtual reality people can view many houses in different cities in a short time. The travel industry will also greatly benefits from virtual reality. Consumers can experience a real holiday feeling and this has a positive influence on sales.  

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But virtual reality is not only connected to a certain branch. Overall, it is a great tool to increase customer engagement by telling an amazing story.

Last year Coca Cola set up a great campaign, which made use of virtual reality. If you ever wondered what it is like to ride on the sleigh of Coca Cola’s Santa then you should definitely watch the video below!

Click here to watch the Coca Cola campaign!

Concerns about virtual reality

Currently the prices of virtual reality glasses are quite high. But the expectation is that these prices will decrease, making virtual reality glasses easily accessible to the public. Besides the price, privacy is also a major concern. Virtual reality applications for commercial purposes offer new possibilities for targeting eye like movements, facial expressions, and emotions.  

There are definitely some concerns that need to be resolved before the mass audience adopts virtual reality. Yet despite these concerns, virtual reality seems to be a promising tool that will prove to be very advantageous for future marketers!

Written by Leonie Douma

After being sold out one week before the deadline, the Amsterdam Marketing Event 2016 was a big success. This edition’s theme was the Future of Marketing, and discussed was what’s next from different viewpoints. Again, the greatest marketing recruitment event of the year exceeded everyone’s expectations!

From drilling machines to drilling content

Joris Demmers (assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam Business School) opened the event with a brief overview of the origins of Marketing. This led him to highlight the trends and threats Marketing currently faces. A live poll showed that a majority of the AME participants believes that the most important trend is Big Data.

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Next up was Nils Boss from Hilti (a leading-edge technology company that operates in the global construction industry) who impressed with his performance, as he entered the stage with his drilling machines and sunglasses on. For him, the trend of Marketing is aligned with Hilti’s main philosophy: focusing on customer content and customer contact in order to fulfill customers’ desires. To meet those desires, they personally ask them about their needs, sell only through self-owned stores and are present on every important exhibition of the construction industry. With this concept Hilti presented itself as an attractive employer to young marketers striving for challenges and new fields to explore.

Afterwards, VICE (once launched as a punk magazine, but has now developed into a leading global youth media company) convinced with its fresh and young firm culture. Rens Verweij, Head of Strategy, showed why VICE is defining the future in music and entertainment. VICE is globally present in 40 countries where curious employees are looking for stories. By using a network of channels in which these stories are exchanged, Vice is able to provide its viewers with the most relevant and exciting content. Particularly interesting is the way Rens explained how they reach their target group: the Millennials. Considering the audience’s mindsets, VICE brings their stories into the world by using the right medium. Rens ended by recommending every young marketer to follow VICE’s mantra: “Let’s try not to be shitty”.

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During the coffee and tea break, the participants got their first chance to speak with people from these two companies to gain an even better insight into the company cultures.

Two products you can’t live without

After the first break, MOBGEN (the leading mobile solutions specialist) presented itself as an innovative and global brand. This presentation was especially relevant as the speaker, Zouhair Ouriaghli, got his job by networking at the Amsterdam Marketing Event 2015. Zouhair showed the benefits of MOBGEN’s focus on building a long-term relationship with their customers. It can be said that MOBGEN represented itself as an attractive future employer by putting a high emphasis on innovation.

“Hearing that one of the speakers found a job through the Amsterdam Marketing Event really gives me the confidence to find a job myself!”

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In the very last presentation Paulien Streater and Saida Bou Chamach explained why Nespresso is more than just George Clooney. The Armani of the coffee industry is recognized for its ultimate coffee experience worldwide. But how does Nespresso achieve this exclusive market position? Of course, the answer is quality, but it is not only their excellent choice of coffee farmers and innovatively designed coffee machines. By offering a high variety of capsules and the option to recycle, Nespresso fits every customer’s needs and aims to meet the expectations of the Millennials, as they strive for individualism.

The following lunch break enabled the participants to speak with speakers to find out more about job opportunities and if the companies fit their expectations. Moreover, Walters People gave participants the chance to have their CVs checked and offered valuable tips. A few lucky participants were invited to recruitment lunches with HelloFresh and Henkel.

“The recruitment lunch gave me the opportunity to get an excellent insight
into what it’s like to work at HelloFresh!”

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How good of a marketer are you?

The afternoon was full of interesting workshops. Leading Talent, FrieslandCampina, L’Oréal, Henkel and Dorst & Lesser offered various case studies for students to work on. From Leading Talent asking the participants to work on their personal branding, to FrieslandCampina challenging their participants to come up with an innovative product idea for 2020.

“The workshops enabled me to become more familiar with the company and to
interact with the recruiters!”

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The day ended with networking drinks, giving us a great chance to review the day and thank the Amsterdam Marketing Event committee for their excellent work. All in all, it can be said that this event achieved all of its goals of offering insights into interesting and future oriented companies to students that are looking for an internship or a graduate position by connecting Master’s and last year Bachelor students to the recruiters of these companies.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to the Amsterdam Marketing Event 2017!

Written by Meike Behrens