Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Stealth Fighter

20 Sep 2006

This morning I went to Brussels to go to a presentation at a customer of ours. I was a little early and I was waiting for Tom to pick me up at the central train station when I was approached by a slightly older man with white hair. He asked me directions to the building of the Red Cross. I didn’t know where it was, so I proposed him to go to a city map together and find out where he had to be. I noticed that every once in a while he brought his hand to his chest, a few inches above his heart, and he showed clear signs of tremendous pain coming from that area. I asked him if he was ok and then he told me the most impressive story I’ve ever heard. Normally he should be resting and ‘not moving’, because he got shot in Iraq, but he was in Brussels on a personal mission.

He said he’d been a soldier in Iraq, and showed me the metal tags he wore around his neck. He said he was a Stealth Fighter pilot, but was sent to Iraq to fly another type of plane because he had to deliver goods. Apparently, one way or the other, he got shot somewhere last week and was on his way home. The bullet normally would’ve hit him in the shoulder, but he was wearing a backpack and the bullet got diverted by an object he had put away in the small pockets attached to the girdle you wear the backpack with, so it ended up above his heart. He spoke South African and English and said he had a house in Cape Town, although he was in the US Air Force. He also said why he wanted to go to the building of the Red Cross. In Baghdad he and his buddies found a fifteen year old girl who spoke English fluently. She said she had been abducted by her father three years before and that she had been forced to stay in Iraq. They’ve turned over the girl to the Red Cross, and today she would be in Brussels. So, since he was here too he wanted to go visit her. One of the next few days the girl will be reunited with her mother.

The soldier also said he had to get to the Red Cross headquarters to pick up some money, so he could go home. Because the man obviously had a lot of pain (he showed me the wound, which was the first time ever I saw a bullet wound, and it looked really serious) I figured he wasn’t going to make it to the Red Cross building on foot, or that it would take him a really long time and a lot of pain. He had no money. So, I went to the cash machine and withdrew some money. Then I took him to a taxi, explained the driver where he had to take the man, paid in advance and went back to the meeting place where Tom in the meanwhile was steadily disturbing traffic. So, instead of donating to Greenpeace this year, this was my contribution to a better world. … And actually, I’m feeling quite satisfied. Good luck, stranger!


Future Talk

10 Sep 2006

< emotional rant > I came across this really cool quote on Room116 of which I hope it’ll be true for me too, one day. I don’t have kids of my own yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s exactly the kind of ‘thing’ that’s going on between my dad and me. He’s not perfect, but man I admire the path he walked. To me, he is successful and I enjoy spending time with him. I really look up to him and to the things he has accomplished and it would be great if one day I could be in his shoes, with a kid (might be plural) that wants to spend time with me.
< /end emotional rant >

Wisdom On A Coffee Cup

Wisdom on a coffee cup.

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Posted in Thoughts


Compulsive Behavior

07 Sep 2006

I’m not a neurotic, but sometimes I do things just because they need to be done. I don’t always get the instant pleasure right away, it mostly comes afterwards. Sometimes it doesn’t come at all. I used to go for a run regularly. I didn’t always wanted to, but I knew that if I didn’t, I’d feel less good the days after. As my schedule became more busy, I quitted running and found myself to be more stressed (and more fat), feeling tired more often. So, recently I decided to become a member in a fitness club. Not because I really really wanted it, but because it was necessary. I go there twice a week. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes for two hours depending on my mood. Despite the fact that I tire myself and have doubts on the way over there, I feel great and full of energy when I get back home. I tell my friends and myself that this is what I want, although half of the time, when I’m heading to the fitness club, I don’t actually feel like moving.

At night, or on the train to and from work, I read feeds. I don’t always want to, but I know that if I want to keep up with “what’s new”, I have to. Last night I didn’t feel like reading much, but when I finally went to bed, I realised that I had been reading for over four hours. I felt tired, but also satisfied, because I know more than when I did before I started reading. Even though I didn’t want to read in the first place.

It’s funny people have this kind of behavior. Today I read an article on Kinetic Ideas, and Wendy blogged about the exact same feelings I’ve been having. It felt good to know that I wasn’t alone. She put things in the exact same way I think about them and connects it to marketing:

Last night, I went for a run.

Did I want to go for a run?

No, not really. I wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to sit on my couch and read a book. But I went anyway because exercise is a non-negotiable activity. I know if I want to stay fit and healthy, that I have to exercise.

In the same way, marketing is a non-negotiable activity for the well-being and longevity of your business. Will you want to do it? Not always.

But do it anyway. A long-term commitment to marketing is the best way to keep your company “fit.”

Very often you find yourself doing things you don’t really want to do, but you do them anyway. The metaphor of the drops and the bucket seems quite in its place here. It’s the total amount of small drops that eventually fill up the bucket. It’s the small amount of data that you collect every time you read something that forms your total knowledge archive in your head. It’s the things you blog, even if you don’t really feel like blogging, but you do it anyway because in the end, you just know it’s all worth it. It’s the things you do, that you can’t explain if someone asks you about it. Those things are the ‘just because’ answers to people who ask you why. They are non-negotiable. You know why you do it, and people who think like you understand. To others they seem useless, but those others do not always see ‘the picture’ the way you see it.


Faces For Lebanon

11 Aug 2006

Wael Attili, the senior designer of toot, came up with the idea in late July. The Kuwaiti company, Ebsar, adopted the idea and pledged to sponsor it in Kuwait and several regional countries with the cooperation of other major regional companies. Toot contributes to faces for Lebanon by means of design, programming, technical backend, brainstorming ideas and concepts for the campaign. There’s also a dedicated Flickr group. seeks to demonstrate the solidarity of people with Lebanon and the Lebanese people. Millions of people around the world are calling for an immediate halt of all acts of aggression against Lebanon, and the humanitarian catastrophe that is worsening everyday. aims to spread the words of millions who want to send a message to the world that they are against all acts of violence and aggression. By publishing your photo on, you will contribute to the buzz we want to create globally and attract as much media attention as possible in a highly civilized and unique manner. Furthermore, your contribution will document the world’s solidarity with Lebanon and the widespread infuriation from this aggression on Lebanon.

Stop the madness! War isn’t the answer! It never is!


via Houtlust


IKEA’S Mini-Site

10 Aug 2006

I’ve been holding back this post because I wanted to see where the buzz was going, and yeah, it kind of went the way I predicted it. It might seem a bit silly to talk about this Dutch/French site on a blog written in English, but I’ve got to get this off my chest, plus I promised to write about it. / are the URLs I’ll be talking about, so tune in here to see what the fuzz is all about.

A friend of mine is a senior designer for MTFR, he’s a Flasher. He’s magic. He got hired by the Germaine agency to create the new IKEA mini-site, which he did with great class (Well, actually Germaine hired MTFR). The look and feel, the transitions, they’re awesome and as smooth as a baby’s behind. I’ve been sending the URL around in our agency five minutes after the site launched, about nine days ago.

So what is the site about? IKEA has a new campaign out, which translates as ‘Live Now’. It’s a site that ‘protests’ against the high expectations we need to fulfill, the stressy days we live through and the fastness of the culture we live in.

Let’s run through the site and discuss what we see:

Leef Nu

After the ‘welcome’ message we can see 7 boxes. Starting on the right the first one we see is ‘Stressvrije Oplossingen’ (Stress-Free Solutions), which is in fact a dressed-up ‘links’ page to product planners from IKEA such as their Kitchen Planner tool, the PAX Planner (where you can design your own dressing or closet), and so on. Nothing new here, just links to online services.

Next box is ‘Kaartje Zenden’ (Send an e-card), where you can send a digital piece of cardboard to your friends by using one of the six templates. Some of the slogans are average, others are more amusing, that’s just a matter of taste. The entire point is to spread the word to your friends/colleagues/etc about the website. Nothing new here either.

Next box is ‘Test Nu’ (Test Now), where the visitor is presented with some questions and is invited to indicate his level of agreeing or disagreeing by sliding a paperclip over a ruler-ribbon. It’s just a basic test with 14 questions and the end result is an analysis of ‘the factors that are keeping you from enjoying your life’. Slick design, basic questions. Afterwards you can have a detailed analysis sent to you by submitting some personal details, if you want that.

Fourth box is the ‘Antistress Manifest’, the promotional blah-blah from IKEA where they explain why they think life is moving too fast, and how they picture the stress-free life they cherish so deeply. The five points in the manifesto are just marketing the product benefits of IKEA, so nothing new here either. It’s the obligatory sales pitch, dressed up in a nice text.

The 5th box is labeled ‘Relax’. Clicking the box triggers a full-screen black pop-up with a looped audio file of ‘the sound of waves crashing on the beach’. It’s the ‘Zen’ part of the site, however playing it on my laptop, the sound reminded me of standing next to a highway in the rain with a car that passes by every once in a while. Some seagulls would have been nice. I like the idea though. Probably need better speakers for this.

The sixth box is the ‘tips’ box. It’s a brief list of tips to make your everyday life a bit less stressy. Visitors are invited to click a link and send an email with their own tips. It’s not sure what’ll happen to them, they do not seem to become enclosed in the list. Perhaps in a later phase, as promised on the site.

The seventh box is a link to the ‘blog’. This is causing quite a stir in the Flemish blogosphere, because some people seem to take it personally. I think it’s quite silly to compare a simple campaign-blog to ‘the’ list Scoble and Israel put up in Naked Conversations. It’s ridiculous. Saying that ‘IKEA blogs’ and that they’ve started a corporate blog is wrong.

First of all you could have made that up by seeing the URL. If IKEA was starting a corporate blog, they would have done it on their main URL, not in a ‘/blog’ of a campaign site. If you can’t see the difference between a promo-site and a corporate blog, you’re obviously not into marketing. Yeah, I’ve seen the blog too, and yeah, the only thing showing is a list of selected press articles that relate to the general topic of the campaign. People are invited to share their opinion and discuss the articles. They’re not blogposts. Yeah, the engine is WordPress, because that’s the easiest way to set up a discussion platform on a short notice. Maybe there wasn’t a budget to start coding their own engine, and sure as hell, there wasn’t any time. What did you expect them to do? Start a wiki? Set up a forum? All this for a campaign that will run roughly a month?

I would have done exactly the same, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Okay, they use the word ‘blog’. Big deal. That’s how people call a website that lists articles and has a commenting function for feedback. They clearly state on the landing page in the campaign site (which you have to pass before you enter the blog) that they only ‘gather existing articles from the press’ about things that relate to the campaign, and that they invite visitors to drop a comment about them. They don’t say: “welcome to IKEA’s official corporate blog”. There’s nothing wrong with using WordPress to start up a discussion platform. Some people are getting over-excited from reading the word ‘blog’, and they think they know all about it. It’s like something snaps in their head when it turns out some agency ‘dares to use WordPress’ and publishes content they stole/copied/(paid for?) from the press. No, it’s not because you run a campaign ‘discussion platform’ (to not use the word ‘blog’) that you have to set up a quest for in-house bloggers. As you might have noticed, IKEA has a lot of floor-staff who run around like ants in the store, helping customers. They don’t have time to blog. And no, appointing a fulltime blogger for a temporary local campaign site isn’t the answer either.


Disclaimer: I bought an IKEA table once, but it didn’t last long, and the closet I have put together with my brother-in-law came with crooked doors.


A Point Well Illustrated

23 Jul 2006

Normally I’m not in to politics on this blog. But just for this time I’d like to make an exception, because there’s something that needs to be said. I have to get it off my chest. It’s nothing personal against ‘the Jews’, ‘the Americans’ or ‘the British’. This is a fart in the general direction of the leaders of those countries.

From Jason Kottke:


In case you’re not that good at recognizing flags and you’ve been off the world for the last decades: Israel, the US and the UK are standing alone in the right frame. That’s a sign.

There’s a lot more cursing and shouting I would like to do. Really. But I’m not going to get into this. I just hope common sense wins this fight. If the war proceeds for much longer, I’ll definitely start a wicked rant about it. But seriously. I’m pissed off because of this entire situation. And you don’t want to read me ranting when I’m pissed off. Trust me.


YouTube Turns Nasty

20 Jul 2006

“Thank you for your content.” In a recent update in its terms and conditions, YouTube now claims they can do whatever they want with your content. No messages have been sent to the users to communicate this update, but they do have a new page ready: if you’re a musician, you can sign up through the musician page. They note that “YouTube Musician Channels are for musicians.” (yeah, makes it easier for them to isolate potential accounts that are worth some cash) and also that “Uploading videos or music that you do not own is a violation of the artist’s copyrights and against the law. If you upload material you do not own, your account will be deleted.” But if you upload your music, it’s no longer yours. The last part is what they don’t tell you.

“…by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business… in any media formats and through any media channels.”

What kind of content provider would agree to this, except for those who didn’t know? So if YouTube strikes a deal with a record company and they happen to like your tune, but not your face, they can sell your song to the record company so they can use it for a more ‘marketable’ face. Hmm. What are these guys thinking?

Another thing I want to note in the sideline: I’ve said it a few times already, YouTube speaks with two faces. As long as they benefit from the success of a clip, they won’t remove it. Even if it is against the law and legislation. The most recent thing is that video clip from Zidane’s headbutt. You really think any of the users that uploaded it paid for the rights? No. But have you got any idea what TV companies needed to pay to be able to broadcast footage from the World Cup? Millions, if not billions of dollars, euros or whatever. Seriously. Even The Times linked to the famous clip, and there are dozens of versions available, most of them are mixed with some copyrighted tune, for which no rights have been paid either. Have you seen YouTube taking these down? No. Because they benefit from the success. They can use the stats and say: hey we’ve got 100 million videos served a day. Sure. But if you only count the genuine home-made videos, how much is there left to brag with?

I can’t wait to see how they’ll ever gather the nerve to set things straight, instead of deleting an account here or there. They can cover their ass with stupid lines like: you can’t upload this or that, but in the end they keep providing the service, and actively allow for copyrighted content to become popular. Don’t tell me they don’t notice a clip that pulls millions of hits. Sure they see it. But as long as nobody complains, they’ll allow it to happen. And that’s going to cost them, sooner or later.

If they’d start removing all the clips with ’stolen music’, which means: clips with an entire song in them, and all the clips that have TV-content, they’ll not only lose more than half of their content, they’ll use a lot of users as well. And that would make them far less popular and successful than they are now.


Jennifer Nielsen, Marketing Manager for YouTube, writes:

To clarify, YouTube never intended to sell, and never obtained any rights to sell, any User Submissions on CD or other physical media. The sentence you quoted was intended to enable YouTube to syndicate all or part of our website through third party websites (including to enable our embed functionality), in mobile contexts, and similar types of syndication. (…) The sentences that were omitted in the paragraph quoted are [italicized] below in context:

For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions. However, by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service. The foregoing license granted by you terminates once you remove or delete a User Submission from the YouTube Website.

Which makes it better and understandable.



16 Jul 2006

I won last month’s ‘playtagwithme’ on Randy’s iBLOGThere4IM, so I got to pick a book on Amazon. I decided to order the PostSecret book. It looks like something I really want to have on my table to flick through it once in a while. Plus, I’ve grown quite attached to the site. I love to go there and check out the updates. I can’t wait to have the book! Thanks Randy!

PostSecret, The Book

This week’s update on PostSecret features some nice entries, I picked these two to post here:



Order the book | See the site

Related PostSecret Thingies on Marketing Thoughts:

P&G’s PostSecret Duplicate
PostSecret in USA Today
PostSecret Update
Dark Humor And Confessions