Multilingual Business Communication

April 10, 2009

An illusionary street campaign

Filed under: Frauke De Graeve, marketing communication, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:25 pm


This nice piece of street art was to be seen in Stockholm. It was designed by the American artist Kurt Wenner  on commission of Absolut Vodka.

This spectacular and beautiful example of a illusionary street campaign is a 3D chalk drawing on the pavement in a park. The print was part of the brand’s prestigious art ad series. The creation of Wenner’s art was also filmed by Absolut Vodka for a television commercial.


In the beginning, street art, which is any art developed in public places, was used to show activism and to create a powerful platform for reaching a large public.

Graffiti is the most popular and most known form of street art. Street art is popular, alive and kicking. There is even a website that is like a database, on which all street art in the world is indicated.


As street marketers must always be up-to-date and innovative, they use the latest and talked-about ways to surprise the people. They picked up on this trend and made artists design wonderful art ads.


Other examples designed by Kurt Wenner are the campaign for Microsoft’s X-game Gear of War and the Honda Formula 1 for Lucky Strike Racing.



Frauke De Graeve


Talking with (not to) your employees about diversity

Filed under: employee communication, internship, Ruth Broekaert, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:11 pm

A couple of years ago only a few had heard of the term ‘diversity’. More and more managers have come to realize the importance and the benefits of a diverse workforce. Today diversity has truly become a hot topic for internal communication.

But internal communication is often not more than a one way stream of information. A lot of companies are telling their employees not to discriminate, to tolerate differences and so on. This of course is a good thing. But more effective internal communication leaves room for dialogue, and allows top-down and bottom-up communication to complement each other.

The city of Ghent recognizes that internal communication is in fact a two way street. To put this belief into practice the city’s program for diversity and equal opportunities has made a brochure that gives word to the employees. During workshops employees exchanged their experiences with diversity at the workplace. These stories were bundled into a brochure that has been distributed to all city departments. The success of the internal diversity campaign was acknowledged by Federal Minister of Work and Equal Opportunities Joëlle Milquet 1as she rewarded Ghent with the Label Diversity Equality.


Ruth Broekaert

Filed under: crisis communication, Laura Moerman, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:58 am

“I really hate my boss. Working long hours, hardly any breaks, having the feeling it’s never good enough and all that for just a pittance.”
“This hotel fell short of our needs. The service is very bad and the hotel rooms are smaller than our doghouse.”

“I used to be a true fan of this brand. Now their products only disappoint me.”

You don’t have to search too long to find lamentations like these on the Internet. We all know websites like Tripadvisor, Booking and Amazon, where you can give and read ratings for products and services. Apparently, managers and executives of big companies didn’t find their way to these applications yet. As their customers and employees keep on venting their gall on the World Wide Web, companies just don’t react.

According to Leslie Gaines-Ross, expert in reputation management, companies urgently have to surrender to the Internet. Especially those that would like to keep their reputations clean, often underestimate the power of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. In other words: they miss out on a great opportunity by not using Web 2.0 applications. Most of the top executives still work in the Web 1.0 mode and only use the Internet as a traditional search engine. Without even knowing, the reputation of their company could be in danger.web201

Potential job applicants or customers that are in doubt for two products, can easily find online advice. Whether those comments are pertinent or not, doesn’t really matter. Truth, exaggeration or flagrant lie: all news travels fast.

Companies have to interfere to preserve their reputation. If not, they may have to take the painful consequences. Ask Glenn Tilton, former boss of the American United Airlines, whose dismissal was caused by a website voting for his redundancy, especially designed by the United Airlines employees. Protect yourself from disasters like these and use web 2.0. It’s the link to reputation management!

Laura Moerman

April 9, 2009

‘Vlaamse Opera’, an anti-Israeli organization?

Filed under: crisis communication, Sander Laridon, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 3:05 pm

opera_135782The Jewish community in Belgium is offended once more. This time, the ‘Vlaamse Opera‘ is the culprit. The periodical ‘Joods Actueel‘ objects in advance to the opening performance of the opera ‘Samson and Delilah’ on April 28 in Antwerp.

In the last edition of ‘Joods Actueel’, Guido Joris opposes the opera’s staging because of the possible interpretation of the two directors Amir Nizar-Zuabi and Omri Nitzan. The directors previously suggested that the biblical story serves as a model for the current conflict in the Middle East. Because of this reason, debates and film showings are organized around the stagings.

Mr. Joris holds the opinion that these films are anti-Israeli. As a consequence, he demurs to these film showings. Moreover, he fears the worst for the opera’s settings and costumes.

The ‘Vlaamse Opera’ reacted surprised to the severe criticism. They refute thevlaamseopera1 assertion that the ‘Vlaamse Opera’ is an anti-Israeli organization and are indignant because of the premature criticism.

The conflict between ‘Joods Actueel’ and the ‘Vlaamse Opera’ is the most recent one in a row of clashes with the Jewish organization.  Earlier, there were multiple conflicts with the VRT because of programmes that were experienced as offending.

The Jewish organization seems to be a little bit touchy lately. Will this succession of conflicts send the image and credibility of ‘Joods Actueel’ to the bottom?  And what about the public opinion towards the Jewish organization?


(Sander Laridon)

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!

April 8, 2009

Changing the world one blog at a time

Filed under: Aisling van Vliet, business communication, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:15 pm

Care Logo

My internship is at the Brussels department of CARE, called Care for Europe. The organization tries to fight for a better world through lobbying, educational programs and research. They work in the area of education, bioethics, equality, family, prostitution and human trafficking. Through the lobby work at Care for Europe for example, a free hotline for trafficked people has been set up and the issue of human trafficking has been set on the political agenda.

I will be working on creating new partnerships with likeminded organizations and improving the website of Care. Blogs and community sites for social profit organizations are just starting up and as the following case shows, they have great potential in fulfilling some essential tasks. Reaching people to discuss delicate subjects for example, can be difficult but CARE has realized the great potential of blogs and forums to get conversations started. One example is the blog for men whose partner has had a miscarriage or an abortion ( The blog has been a great success as men have been able to share their story and get feedback from others without having to feel threatened or pressured. They can also be a great tool to connect with other organizations and exchange ideas and experience.

Of course there are many threats that coincide with blogs and social profit organizations will have to put effort into keeping their website updated. Still, I believe it will prove to be a very handy tool and I look forward to discovering its possibilities during my internship at Care for Europe.

Aisling van Vliet

April 7, 2009

Creating an exciting environment to reach customers: sponsorship

Filed under: Aisling van Vliet, marketing communication, Uncategorized — Tags: — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 12:42 pm

As we know, many companies are faced with having to personalize their marketing. New marketing strategies apply and new marketing communication channels are used to reach a whole range of unique consumers. Somewhere along the way consumers have become partners and companies have had to find less obvious ways to reach consumers and creative sponsorship might just be the key.

An example of creative sponsorship marketing is the Aktia Bank case. This Finnish Bank wanted to attract young people to their bank and sponsored Hype the Musical to do so. They partnered up with a musical about the biggest rock festival in Finland and launched their new Hype bankcard for young people during the event. As soon as young people entered the hall, it was obvious to them that Aktia sponsored the event though not intrusive. After a two month long sponsorship and thanks to the large success of the musical, Aktia saw its share in young customers increase with 40% and 30% of the passive young customers of Aktia reactivated their bank account with them. The overall impact of the sponsorship boasted Aktia’s image and the interest in the Hype Card tremendously (

This case might be an encouragement to social profit organizations. If they are able to attract the right sponsor through convincing them about the ROI of their sponsorship, finding funds won’t be such a struggle.

Aisling van Vliet

April 5, 2009

Fired by Big Brother!

Filed under: crisis communication, employee communication, Karen Decabooter, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 1:54 pm

You're fired

Endemol, one of world’s largest television production companies, recently unveiled  a new generation of ‘spectacular entertainment programs’, including the reality show ‘Someone’s gotta go’. The current economic crisis is the source of inspiration of Endemol’s new reality show in which a SME is facing financial difficulties and therefore has to dismiss some of its employees. While Big Brother is watching them, the employees have to decide themselves who should be paid more or less. In the end, one of them is fired by his or her own colleagues.  The rights of the concept have already been sold to the American broadcasting station Fox. Luc Vrancken, TV director at Endemol Belgium, announces that there are no concrete plans yet to introduce this program in Belgium. He claims that legislation and Flemish discretion about pay and dismissals are an obstacle for success.

However, the concept of this TV show has already caused a lot of fuss and controversy. Trade unions cry blue murder and claim that dismissals are no entertainment subject and that good crisis and employee communication are necessary in case of dismissals. I understand their concern and I am also an advocate of a more careful approach in case of dismissals. Which companies will throw good communication principles to the winds and will participate in this sensation-hungry program?

(Karen Decabooter)


Toyota begs employees to return Blackberries

Filed under: crisis communication, Karen Decabooter, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 11:44 am


Asking employees to return their Blackberries is one of the economy measures that Toyota Motor Europe has taken to fight against the economic crisis.

Three months ago, Katsuaki Watanabe, senior executive of the Japanese car producer Toyota , announced that it is difficult for Toyota to keep its head above water during the current economic crisis. He announced an expected operational loss of € 1.19 billion for the financial year that ended on March 21, 2009. To make up for these historical losses, Toyota decided to introduce heavy productions cuts and to reduce working-hours in 75% of its production plants. Moreover, general managers will receive smaller bonuses and they will lose a lot of their fringe benefits. 

Two weeks ago, some sixty Belgian managers of Toyota Motor Europe were asked to return their Blackberries immediately. Although Blackberries are useful devices with a lot of e-mail and agenda applications for travelling managers, the communication costs of these devices are relatively high. According to Frederique Verbiest, spokeswoman of Belgacom, telecom expenses are often revised in times of crisis. However, Toyota is one of the first companies that interferes in the use of Blackberries.

It is a question whether this is the most efficient and paying measure to handle the economic crisis. The majority of managers are already addicted to this business toy. “For most of us, it will be difficult to return our Blackberry”, says one of the employees of Toyota Motor Europe. Don’t you think that this will stir strong feelings among managers who will be less motivated to fight against the crisis? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to let them keep their Blackberries and merely economize on future perks? 

(Karen Decabooter)

Bozar : will the linguistic quarrel ever stop?

Filed under: internship, Sophie Naveau, Uncategorized — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 9:29 am


The Belgian Linguistic Control Commission has recently condemned the use of the name ‘Bozar’ to designate the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. According to the Commission, ‘Bozar’ would sound too French-speaking.

The term ‘Bozar’ was chosen as a marketing tool a few years ago. There was a double aim for the new appellation. On the one hand the institution needed a shorter and ‘hipper’ name than the too long ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles’ or ‘Paleis voor Schone Kunsten van Brussel’. On the other hand, the name ‘Bozar’ was supposed to please both linguistic communities: it is a contraction of the French ‘Beaux-Arts’ and has Dutch spelling and consonance. However, the neologism doesn’t seem to please the Flemish community; it’s not close enough to Dutch. As for the French-speaking they consider it as a deviation of their language.

When will this linguistic argument end? Is this really worth spending energy, time and money for? By the end of the day, there will always be complaints about a new name; too French or too Flemish, too modern or too old-fashioned, not to mention the language purists who consider the new appellation as a heresy!

Shouldn’t we all be happy as long as we can listen to great music, watch wonderful dance performances and visit amazing exhibitions?

05 April 2009:,,–Lappellation+Bozar+trop+francophone+%3F

Older Posts »

Blog at