Multilingual Business Communication

April 9, 2009

Ghent University wants to win their students’ hearts and minds

Filed under: Hannelore Blomme, marketing communication, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 2:09 pm

You cannot miss it: Ghent University is conquering the city. With the help of a huge marketing campaign using the slogan ‘dare to think’, the university aims to attract new students, but also to evoke a sense of pride amongst students, professors and alumni. The campaign involves huge posters visible everywhere in the city: at nearly every bus station, inside every tram and bus and at railway stations. Moreover, ads can be found in newspapers and magazines. And the top of the bill: a huge interactive screen was placed at the ‘Zuid’ square in the centre of the city. Passers-by are invited to give their opinion about bold statements.


The sentence ‘Dare to think’ is very cunningly chosen: it can easily be adapted in a very creative way: examples are ‘Dare to choose’, ‘Dare to read between the lines’, etc.

Some may comment that it is not really clear to whom the campaign is directed, but does that matter? The aim is to improve the university’s image in everybody’s mind: members of the university, members of other universities, inhabitants of the city, alumni, etc. I think the campaign is very original and I hope it wins many prizes!

One minor detail, though: the slogan in Dutch, ‘Durf Denken’, actually contains a mistake against Dutch grammar. The ANS (Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst) sais you need a ‘te’ in your sentence after a conjugated form of durven. It should be ‘durf te denken’. (There are exceptions, but in this case, ‘te’ is absolutely needed, check out However, in Belgium almost everybody ignores that rule anyway, so I really don’t mind… as long as it sounds catchy, which it does!



  1. I think this is a successful campaign. “Durf Denken” has been the slogan of Ghent University for years now and in my opinion it is the first time that the campaign really breaks free from the university scene.
    In previous years, the posters were mainly inspired by biblical scenes. I always interpreted it as a war between Ghent University and K.U. Leuven. Now I think the campaign is more applicable to various social discussions. I wonder if the screen at the Zuid got a lot of reactions.
    Though I have to admit that sometimes, when I see all the huge posters in the bus stations, I wish Ghent University used the money to renovate the buildings of the Blandijn. In any case, the campaign has a fresh and more powerful character.

    Comment by Charlotte De Ruytter — April 9, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  2. This is indeed a very creative and eye-catching marketing campaign of Saatchi&Saatchi Brussels. Click here for more information and some pictures.
    However, Ghent University does not only win the students’ hearts and minds through this particular marketing campaign, but also through the official merchandise of Ghent University.
    More and more frequently you see students with casual sweaters, hooded sweaters, shirts and bags of Ghent University. This is a clear sign that the students are proud of their university.

    (Sander Laridon)

    Comment by Sander Laridon — April 9, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  3. I am also a big fan of this unique campaign. The words of the sentence “Durf tussen de regels lezen” or “Dare to read between the lines” are put seperately on different billboards near bus stops, so that passersby actually do have to think to make an entire sentence out of those words whilst travelling.

    Like Hannelore, I see no harm in the grammatical mistake of not using “te” in “Durf Denken”. Languages change. They are dynamic. Maybe this “mistake” is an original way of showing how Ghent University is also constantly changing and growing. We are not standing still.

    Hannelore De Craene

    Comment by meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie — April 10, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

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