Multilingual Business Communication

October 31, 2008

Whassup Obama?

Filed under: Laura Moerman, marketing communication — Tags: , , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:16 pm

Only a few days away from the elections, the original cast from the succesful Whassup’ commercials is reunited to launch a sequel. Eight years ago, the commercials of American beer brand Budweiser were lauded for their sharpness and originality. You would maybe expect that this time the video will incorporate Stella Artois and Jupiler, since they’re currently all part of the Anheuser-Bush group. But apparently, the true aim of the new ‘Whassup?’ is not to sell more beers, but to gain votes for democratic candidate Barack Obama. The idea for the new video didn’t come from Anheuser-Bush, but from the former scenarist of the Bud commercials.

The original spots were aired in 2000, on the eve of Bush being elected. The Whassup? spots became an international hit and were awarded with several prices, such as the Cannes Grand Prix.

Now, eight years later, the Whassup? scenarist realised how much the United States had changed after the Bush years. He seized on the opportunity to reunite the whole cast for a searing film on the current political condition of the U.S. The 2008 edition of Whassup? stresses the importance of voting and more specifically, the importance of choosing Obama.

It’s striking how politics and business can be interrelated. Although there’s an obvious link between the Bud commercial and this support film for senator Obama, Anheuser-Bush really wants to stress that the ideas that are shown in the spot solely belong to the movie maker and don’t reflect the company’s opinion.  Still, people who know the old commercials, will make the connection. What do you think? How dangerous is it to take sides during elections for a nationwide corporation as Anheuser-Bush?

Laura Moerman


October 29, 2008

KBC receives 3,5 billion from Belgian government

Filed under: crisis communication, Séverine De Ryck — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 9:04 pm

On Monday October 27th, KBC announced that the Belgian government would inject 3,5 billion euro in the financial group. Contrary to what we would expect, this transaction is not caused by liquidity or solvency problems, but by the growing need to strengthen the bank’s competitive position. Due to the fact that more and more banks in Europe received money of their government to counter the financial crisis, KBC felt the danger of suffering competitive disadvantages. Thanks to the Belgian injection, KBC is now the bank with the best position in the Benelux. This transaction is not a bailout like it was the case with Ethias, Dexia and Fortis, which were on the edge of collapsing. KBC was never in danger.

To communicate this injection to its costumers, KBC did the best it could with posting all information about the transaction on their website and in the newspapers, together with an official press release. Besides, the pictures of smiling representatives send a positive message to the clients.On Sunday however, the Frenchspeaking State Secretary of Finances, Bernard Clerfayt, did say that KBC had liquidity problems. This was an enormous blunder, and he had to swallow these words immediately. You would expect that important companies, especially banks, agree in advance on a common statement to communicate to the public. KBC-bankers were very dissapointed in the way the company organized its communication. Even though KBC is not in crisis, it does appear to the crowd that it is, which we can see in frustrated blog posts at newspaper websites.

October 28, 2008

Clubbyclub, where real friends meet…

Filed under: employee communication, Maud Bonte — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 9:36 pm

Ever since the internet made its entrance in virtually every living room in the Western world, the limits of privacy have become very vague. Employees and job-seekers should be aware that anonymity doesn’t exist online. (Future) employers are likely to check you out on the web. The number of friends you have on Facebook may influence the image a recruiter has of you. And that holiday picture that has started to live its own life online certainly won’t do your reputation any good.

Clubbyclub, a brand new online platform, claims it has an answer to this. The platform should allow you to create your own private online community, without any priers – like your future employer – around. Pictures of a new girlfriend or last weekend’s party finally found a safe haven.

Clubbyclub started just recently, it hasn’t been proven, nor enfeebled, if it actually does offer privacy. So if you have pictures you don’t want people like your boss to find out about, it’s probably better not to put them online at all.

Maud Bonte

October 27, 2008

Businessmen of all countries, unite!

Filed under: crisis communication, Hannelore Blomme — Tags: — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:18 pm

If you thought the financial crisis is destructive for every single industry in the world, there is one business you might have forgotten: the one linked to Marxist economic philosophy. The German publisher Karl Dietz says it has sold over 1,500 copies of Karl Marx’ Das Kapital this year, compared to some 200 in other years. The book had fallen terribly out of favour in the post-Soviet years, but now, according to Joern Schuetrumpf from Karl Dietz, “there’s a younger generation of academics tackling hard questions and looking to Marx for answers.” Bookshops nationwide report an increase in sales of 300% during the last months. Whether all buyers will succeed in reading the book from cover to cover is, however, another question, since the book is hardly a “pageturner”.

It’s true, capitalism has – at least partially – proved to be a failure. But is Marxism really the only alternative? Adherents should face it: history has proved that communism almost always leads to repression and low living standards. And really, if you had the choice between going through a financial crisis or running the risk to be sent to a concentration camp, the choice is easily made, isn’t it? What do you say?

Hannelore Blomme

Source: BBC

October 26, 2008

Second Life as the new market place

Filed under: marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:31 pm

Since its public opening in 2003, Second Life has expanded to a virtual global world that has millions of virtual inhabitants. Besides providing virtual gay bars and casino’s, Second Life also offers companies a great marketing space.


Cisco, the leading supplier of networking equipment, soon realized Second Life’s marketing potential and is using it as a major marketing and networking tool. Besides arranging virtual meetings with its employees and offering extensive customer training through Second Life, Cisco uses it as a tool for customer interaction. The company presents its products using PowerPoint and video presentations and offers feedback to customers concerning their questions about certain products. Christian Renaud, chief architect of networked virtual environments for Cisco states that the real value of Second Life for Cisco is the opportunity for spontaneous customer interaction (the InformationWeek Blog).


In an era of increasing globalisation and technologisation, virtual worlds like Second Life could become an intrinsic part of marketing and business communication.


If you’d like to know more about Second Life and its business potential you can look up the following sites:

Marketer of the year: Barack Obama

Filed under: marketing communication, Trui Lagae — Tags: , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 4:20 pm

The American marketing journal “Advertising Age” has announced the results of this year’s poll among marketers, agency heads and marketing services vendors (The Inspiration Room). At the Association of National Advertisers’ annual conference 36,1 % of the votes were in favour of Barack Obama. At first sight I considered a presidential candidate to be  a quite unusual winner: the closest competitors were Apple (27.3%), Zappos (14.1%) and Nike (9.4 %). However, with John McCain receiving 4,5 % of votes, politicians apparently have conquered their spot in the marketing industry.

According to experts, Obama’s campaign has done so well by creating a social network in which people can engage very easily. The main secret behind the campaign appears to be the recognition of supporters’ talent. A well-known example is the work of street artist and DJ Shepard Fairey. As a big fan of Obama he designed two images, featuring Obama with the words “hope” and “progress”, which started to circulate around the world. Just two weeks later the artist was asked to create an official poster, with the word “change”. This poster is now even for sale on Obama’s website.

(Trui Lagae)

The power of the customer

Filed under: employee communication, marketing communication, Valérie Debrauwere — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:00 pm

In the context of blogging, consumers are now being referred to as “powerful monsters” by Sjoukje Smedts in “Trends”. This means that they are more and more actively trying to take over the role of marketers. It is they who can make or break a brand. For instance in the case of Dell (whose blog was mentioned in an earlier post by Geert Jacobs) one single blogger managed to make the stock ratings drop by spreading tons of negative gossip about the brand.

Swedish marketing phenomenon Stefan Engeseth warns companies about the importance of listening to their supporters. Not doing so could harm one’s own brand. In other words companies must understand and learn about the benefits of staying in touch with their customers. That way they might even be able to take advantage of the ideas brought forward by fans. The iPod for example initially wasn’t invented by Apple itself but actually came to life thanks to the efforts of an outsider.

Thus marketers should work together with consumers to overpower their competitors. Engeseth advises companies to employ managers who are already in contact with some bloggers. The key-aspect is to try and find ‘the leader of the pack’ of the blogging community. They should get him on their side since he’s the one all the others listen to. A productive exchange program could spring where on the one hand the company gets the support of the ‘leading blogger’ and he on the other hand gets that little extra piece of product information that makes the other bloggers look at him in awe.

source: “De kracht van de klant” by Sjoukje Smedts in Trends, 16 oktober 2008, p. 110-112

(Valérie Debrauwere)

edit: Companies should acknowledge this power of the customer and embrace the new phenomenon of blogging, to draw out as much benefit as they can. In any case this can only be to their advantage. [In response of the comment I have added an additional source giving companies information on how to harness the marketing power of blogs.]


October 23, 2008

Battle of the brands

Filed under: Lana Robignon, marketing communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:04 pm

When Windows Vista was introduced, Bill Gates shouted: “the wow starts now!”. Several months later, it seems the wow is reduced to a sigh of desperation. The American specialist journal PC World calls the new operating system the biggest technological disappointment of the year. Oil was poured on the fire when Microsoft announced to invest millions of dollars into the Vista marketing campaign. These advertisement efforts created quite a buzz, admittedly a rather negative buzz since the ads didn’t really say anything about the product itself, but a buzz nonetheless.

Apple, Microsoft’s major competitor, gratefully jumped on the opportunity to base their marketing campaign ‘get a Mac’ on Microsoft’s problems. The new spots, featuring “PC” and “Mac”, are overtly making fun with Microsoft’s high-profile ad campaign and their bug-and-glitch problems concerning Vista. These commercials are all about comparative advertising and make the point that Microsoft is spending too much money and effort in advertising Vista and not enough in fixing its bugs.

Is this an example of clever marketing by using popular elements like humour and relevant, recognisable issues or is it just mean-spirited and overtly negative competitive advertising?

Check out the ads and decide for yourselves.

(Lana Robignon)

Fortis celebrates!

Filed under: crisis communication, Lana Robignon — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 11:25 am

In times of economic recession, panic reactions and all-round anxiety, some peculiar news reached our ears in the last couple of weeks. Whilst Fortis needed to be bailed out by not only one, but three governments for a mere sum of 11 billion Euros, Fortis Insurance Belgium thought it to be a good idea to go through with their planned exclusive culinary event. This networking event took place in the most expensive hotel of Monaco, with a price tag of 150.000 Euros.

Fortis’ reaction was clear: the trip to Monaco was planned months before the crisis burst out and was part of a commercial action. Marketing communication in hard times. It is true that Fortis can definitely use some good commercial actions to generate cash flow. They’ve put the idea “you have to spend money to make money” into practice.

This raises the questions: which group of stakeholders is more important to Fortis: the big investors or the average Joe in the street? This event may have appealed to 50 big investors, but what effect will this have on the general public? Does this restore the confidence? Blog reactions all over the internet may suggest that this situation hasn’t done the reputation of Fortis any good.

An effective marketing communication strategy in order to attract new investors or hypocritical behaviour that alienates clients?

(Lana Robignon)


October 22, 2008

Executives in crisis

Filed under: crisis communication, Trui Lagae — Tags: — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 9:12 am

While crisis, recession and economic measures dominate the news, a lot of criticism arises in Europe regarding the often extravagant salaries managers receive. Justifiably, some of them are therefore forced to give in benefits or are being dismissed.  Japanese managers however take it a step further: they often cut their own pay when the company’s performances are down.

Executive Yukio Sakamoto from Elpida (Elpida Memory, Inc. produces memory cards)  sent out an  unusual and even stronger signal, announcing on Monday that he would work for free in November and December. Afterwards he will continue to receive only half of his salary until the company has become profitable again. Yukio Sakamoto says this symbolic gesture should show the public his goodwill and determination to make the company sound again.

Although I  like his gesture very much, I do wonder whether it isn’t just that: a gesture as a strategy to gain popularity instead of a real effort to help the company… Is all this nothing more than smart communication or are Japanese executives truly that honourable?

(Trui Lagae),0,1933887.photogallery?index=bal-afp_gettyfilesjapare20081020132604

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