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Although I had had a busy week, and university deadlines had been piling up on top of each other, I made sure I was able to attend the Amsterdam Commercial Night (ACN) event last week. Partially as a gesture of commitment as the MAA’s Chief Digital Marketeer, but mostly because it seemed like an event jam-packed with knowledge beneficial to me as a future marketeer! This blog post is here to tell you exactly how the event unfolded.

 Upon first entering Posthoornkerk – yes, a church – I encountered  the inevitable array of nuts, chips, crackers and free drinks: a display of the classic Dutch borrel. As I was barely on time (unsurprisingly), I had no time to enjoy these treats and had to scurry up to the main hall where the presentations were being held. I was in awe; the stage was set right beneath the church’s main spired tower you see from the outside, and the seats were lined by dimly lit, small bricked atriums that lead to the stage. 

 The main host of the night was Gijs de Beus, the strategic mastermind behind Friends & Foes: a creative agency located in Amsterdam. He opened the ACN Storytelling event with a little clip on how Friends & Foes was founded, while teaching us the basis of what storytelling is and how crucial it is for brand strategy. He paved the way for the three speakers of the night. The first speaker, Rik toe Water, represented GroupM: the world’s largest advertising media company, with subsidiaries that make beloved shows such as Love Island possible. It isn’t hard to imagine the source of GroupM’s success if all their employees have personalities and presentation skills like Rik’s. He was able to make the church echo with laughter while still remaining educational throughout his entire presentation. He provided exceptional visuals for the audience to understand the power of brand storytelling, as well as pitfalls that come with it if it isn’t done right. His take home message, repeated adamantly throughout the presentation, was to: use all platforms available, consistently engage with your consumers, scale your message, and stick to one main story.

 The second presentation took a surprising turn from the first one. Philips, represented by Dirk van der Horst, offered us an insight into their own (hi)story as game changers within the healthcare industry. We were taken back to 1891, when the three founding fathers of Philips joined forces to establish what has become a powerhouse of innovation. The presentation focused on Philip’s own success story while looking into the future at the incoming trends bound to shape the digitalisation of healthcare technology. Of course, a presentation about the healthcare industry would have been incomplete without a little side note reminding us students to take care of our  alcohol intake. Don’t get me wrong, it was greatly appreciated – but hilarious given that we were fortunate enough to have Grolsch sponsor the event’s supply of beer! 

 Following the two presentations, we had an interim break where we headed back to the borrel area to network, nibble on some snacks, and grab ourselves a bottle (or two) of Grolsch’s beer. The speakers joined too, engaging with students and divulging the companies’ secret recipes to success (or so I hope). At the borrel, Walters People – a recruitment consultancy firm operating  in major European countries – was there to help us with our LinkedIn profiles. I would like to take this opportunity to say that my LinkedIn profile was actually complimented by Walters People themselves…although they did say that my profile picture needed an update (to which I wholeheartedly agreed). After this ego boost, I went back into the main hall where I saw the opportunity to talk to the host, Gijs, and ask him what he was most looking forward to during the event.

 “I was really curious to hear the first presentation because it’s very close to what we [Friends & Foes] do, but with a slightly different take. The second presentation – yea, I know Philips intimately and have worked for them as a consultant. It’s such a complex organization, they’re going through such a profound transformation so it’s interesting to hear how story can be used in that transition. The third presentation I think is a classic example of marketing done well through the use of a story; we still need to hear it, but I’ve had a sneak peak of the presentation and I’m really curious to hear it – really excited.”

 After speaking to Gijs, and sharing his excitement, it was time for the  last company presentation of the night. Ard Bossema, Grolsch’s very own Marketing and Strategy Director, was the third presenter of the night. He kick-started his presentation with an incredible promotional video capturing the essence of the company, and continued to woo us with facts about the company that really set it apart from the rest. Did you know that Grolsch was the first beer to use a swing-top bottle cap? Me neither! Supposedly, it makes Grolsch’s beer bottle the second most famous bottle in the world – after the Coca Cola’s, that is. We were then immersed into stories of Grolsch’s explosive past. Literally speaking. Their first brewery in Enschede was destroyed by fireworks 19 years ago. Nonetheless, they made an astonishing comeback and rebuilt their brewery from scratch. Ard then dove into the company’s strategic trajectory, which included being completely transparent about how they were going to successfully entrance us, their target market, into choosing their new beer targeted to the youth. Watch out for Kornuit! 

 The evening concluded with even more drinks, nibbles, and a goody bag! By this time, everyone was way more social than during the interim break (thanks Grolsch!), and we all got together to discuss the presentations and other less important things, such as our impending workloads and unfinished theses. Overall, I’m glad I attended Amsterdam Commercial Night. I had a great time, felt productive, and left the event more equipped for my future career than I was when I came in.

By Derya Yildirim 

Have you ever imagined what Amsterdam would look like without any form of advertising on the streets? Maybe it has crossed my mind, but the scenario seemed to unrealistic to give any further thought. Not for Gilberto Kassab, a former mayor of São Paulo. Due to the exponential growth of advertising in the city and the difficulty to regulate it, Kassab decided in 2006 to ban advertising altogether. He introduced the “Clean City Law”, outlawing the use all outdoor advertisements, including billboards, transit and storefront signs. In a single year, 15.000 billboards and 300.000 oversized storefront signs were removed in the the city. Was São Paulo in 2006 the start of an era of ad-free cities? Or is it just naïve to think we can fully banish advertising?

Positive Vibes

For São Paulo, it has definitely led to some positive things. The hidden beauty of the urban city was revealed and the unique character was able to resurface. To help people identify and distinguish between businesses, buildings were painted in various colours making the public space vibrant and attractive again. Moreover, it freed up space for street artists to work on graffiti masterpieces. And above all, it forced them to be creative and agile, leading to a thriving advertising industry. They had to come up with alternative methods, like indoor innovations such as elevator ads, but the primary focus was on digital media. It has made São Paulo a front runner in the area of social media and digital marketing.  

No pain, No Gain

On the other hand, São Paulo had to deal with some negative consequences as well. The city went through something like an identity crisis, since the uncovered and ugly concrete jungle was making the city look worse without its advertising mask. The once hidden favelas were revealed showing gross inequalities and the city became less safe due to the loss of lighting. Furthermore, it had a large impact on the local economy, leading to revenue losses and the disappearance of jobs. Not to mention the limitation of the freedom of speech. Consumers have less information on which to base purchase decisions, damaging the rules of a market economy.

We may think that advertising is the devil bringing us nothing but misery, but there might be more to it. People have a basic need for relevant, entertaining and informative content. If it’s done in the right way, commerce can be a valuable exchange. If brands are part of the public space, it enters people’s thoughts and becomes the subject of conversations. And most of all, advertising helps to fund city infrastructure and is often a crucial source of revenue for many cities. Generally, it is not feasible to discard advertising.

Yay or nay?

All in all, an advertising ban has a big impact on the economy. It might look better, with less distraction and more focus on art, but it is a utopia? If it’s not on the streets, it will be somewhere else. Marketers will find other ways to influence you. And is restriction always the solution? Perhaps, it is possible to find a middle ground that takes all considerations into account. What would you like for Amsterdam?

Written by Jasmijn van Veggel

The chat bot technology is rising and becoming a preferred customer interface. Chat bots are personal assistants designed to simulate conversation (text or voice-based) with human users over the Internet. They have been around for quite a while now, but the quality is becoming better and better through natural language processing and big data analytics. They can answer your question, help you to get things done and do suggestions. Chats bots are also great for interactive customer service because they are accessible 27/4.

Apple Siri

One of the most known examples is Apple Siri. Things you can ask Apple Siri are for instance: ‘how is the weather tomorrow?’, ‘can you wake me up at 7 AM tomorrow?’ but also ‘what is the best sushi place in town?’ Imagine you are an owner of a great restaurant; of course, you want Apple Siri to mention it.

Only Sending an Emoij to Receive Relevant Information

In the travel industry chat bots are already quite popular. Companies like KLM, Booking.com, Cheapflights and Skyscanner are using chat bots on a daily basis. One of the most progressive examples is Dutch airline KLM.

KLM uses the chat bot technology as a new kind of service towards their customers, and has built a code on KLM.com that makes it possible to show a personalised Messenger plugin. If you use the plugin then things like your boarding pass and flight status updates will be sent to you directly via Messenger. It has never been so easy to find your information, and be up to date!

But that is not it, KLM offers also offers services during your holiday.  Imagine that you look for a bike rental; you only have to send a bike emoij and your current location and KLM instantly replies with the best address. Check it out here!

Chat with Miss Piggy on Facebook Messenger!

Recently The Muppets promoted their show on ABC via a so-called celebrity chat bot promotion. It was possible to chat via Facebook Messenger with Miss Piggy and ask her anything! Miss Piggy is definitely a chat bot with character. The people behind The Muppets Show came up with 6 000 possible reactions in de style of Miss Piggy and it was a success: some chat session took over 30 minutes!  

There are many ways that consumers and companies are using chat bot; as this technology continues to develop it is creating new and innovative ways to simplify and improve efficiencies in our lives. The technology has proven advantageous for everyone from everyday iphones users, to promoters of television shows. Keeping an eye on technology, such as the chat bot, is critical if companies and consumers are going to keep up with our growing markets!

Written by Leonie Douma

We live in a world where everything you can think of, can be found on the Internet. It should come as no surprise this had led to a problem, also known as the rabbit hole problem. There is so much content available, that the consumer gets lost in it. That’s why companies had to come up with a solution which is known today as personalized marketing. By using cookies for example, companies can follow your browsing behaviour and use this to present you with personalized offerings and content. Personalized marketing is essential for companies to ensure that consumers will keep coming back.

The Filter Bubble

A consequence of personalization is something that’s called the ‘filter bubble’, introduced by Eli Pariser. The filter bubble is an invisible algorithm that selectively guesses what information someone would like to see based on the search history of the user. Common examples are Google’s search results and Facebook’s news feed. What happens is that users don’t get to see the information that disagrees with their viewpoint and thus isolating them in their ideological information bubbles. But what determines what you get to see? You can think of clicks, viewing friends, likes on Facebook, reading news stories and so on.

The Downside of Personalization

Personalization may be helpful for online shopping, but it could have negative implications for the discourse in society because it closes us off to new ideas, people with other backgrounds, and opinions but also other crucial information. We don’t challenge our beliefs anymore and become blind to other perspectives. It thus creates the impression that our narrow view of the world is all that there is. As Pariser said, “too much candy and not enough carrots”.

Hitting the Psychological Jackpot

However, the filter bubble can not only be explained by online algorithms, but also by a persistent psychological driver: the confirmation bias. This is the tendency to search, interpret and recall information in a way that confirms our pre-existing beliefs or assumptions, while giving less attention to alternative information. This effect is stronger for emotional issues and personal beliefs. It can be explained by wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. The result is overconfidence in your own beliefs and poor decisions due to this bias. The filter bubble not only seems to be the problem, we ourselves contribute to it as well.

It is debated whether personalized filtering is actually happening and if it is, to what extent? But it is definitely something we shouldn’t put aside without giving it some thought. Be aware of the fact that what you see on Google might be something different than what someone else sees. If you are looking for a good movie to watch on Netflix, it is a good thing that they already know what you like, but there might be more to it. What do you think, is personalization beneficial or harmful?

The filter bubble is likely having an impact on important decisions in your personal life. Decisions such as the way in which you have informed yourself about the upcoming elections. A relevant question to ask yourself – is it possible that the filter bubble has affected your vote for the elections?

Written by Jasmijn van Veggel

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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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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