Off the charts advertising

They sure can advertise the heck out of things in these parts. Subliminal messaging haunts my days and my actions. Along with every other catch phrase an internal struggle ensues: ‘to see or not to see’.

Sorry we’re interrupting this broadcast to give you the latest on… Maoam – Ma-o-am. Let the music wash over you. Visualise those Stromae-esque dance moves. Wait for it, the pop culture style letters ‘Full On’ are going to flash across the screen in 3-2-1. Man I have got to get me some of those Maoam crazy roxx! They’re so cool, zo funky. That’s my kinda popping candy.


You see how they got me there. It’s not right. It’s like witchcraft. I think we can all agree that advertising makes puppets of us all.

The rise of advertising, the puppet master

According to Geheugen van Nederland (GVNL) the history of modern mass advertising in the Netherlands dates from around 1850. But advertising did not really get off the ground until 1869, when the stamp duty on newspapers and magazines was abolished. From then on, more and more posters could be seen on the streets advertising such products as Sunlight soap, Van Houten chocolate, Singer sewing machines, Philips light bulbs, Verkade biscuits and Delft salad oil.

Wait, just hang on a minute, before I tell you the rest of the story, I just remembered that I have to get the Scholl mani/pedi kit for perfect summer nails. I’ve been getting reminders for weeks already so I better get going.

Anyway, what was I saying about advertising? Oh yes, the first colour advertisement came out in 1915. Their first TV commercial was aired in 1967, advertising songs from the 50s and 60s. Packages included a pottery jar for De Betuwe from 1888.

Nowadays things are off the charts.

Programmatic advertising adoption in the Netherlands is  high. The highest in Europe in fact. Magna Global estimated in 2013 that the Netherlands would lead all other countries in terms of programmatic display spending by 2017.

Branding masked as humour

All the exceptionally good commercials are satirical in nature. They’re funny and they have a storyline that the average Joe can identify with. Who can forget Simon the Ogre from Thomson Holidays (TUI) – I was so happy for him when he finally broke the spell of depression and emerged from the beautiful ocean, a refreshed man.

How about the nut job from the Media Markt. They’ve been on a role with those ads. Each one funnier than the next. All you need is a lunatic roaming around some electronics to keep people hooked. That just says it all about society…

Look Heineken’s ads are like the Dutch mainstay. They smoke out that patriotic feel. I was quite into the Switch Commercial with the mischievous barman and the siren in vintage getup.

But the latest two Tele2 commercials really prove how influential these snippets are. The first ‘Niet omdat het moet, maar omdat het kan’ commercial was brilliant, it made me laugh and sing-along but their latest edition is so bad I want to blast a hole through it each and every time.

The first:

‘We care about you’ subliminal messaging

It’s not all about touting consumer trends though. Some advertisers cleverly use the nurturing approach that will prompt you to pick up the phone and purchase insurance faster than you can say Freddy. It’s true these kind of commercials provide valuable tips and advice.

It’s just that when you consider the real purpose of advertising you end up feeling played.

The Ohra banana commercial is a great example of this. The first time you watch it you come away thinking ‘wow, I’m so glad Ohra reminded me of the kind of scams I can run into on holiday’. They really care about the consumer.

But remember you’re still going to have to speak to a customer service representative if you get robbed on holiday. It’s not going to be ‘direct geregeld’. It’s not going to be resolved in the 30 seconds that it took for this commercial to air.

Yeah, rhetoric doesn’t just happen with words. Images and pictures mean something to us and people can use them to influence and affect us in many different ways. Just as rhetoric in general has to do with how you choose to express yourself, visual rhetoric involves how you choose to present information or an argument through images.

This is reinforced each time you repeat catch phrases and logos. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the Netherlands.


Oh and ‘even Apeldoorn bellen’

Widely considered as one of the funniest (and thereby most effective) campaigns in the Netherlands and worldwide is ‘Even Apeldoorn bellen’ by insurance company Centraal Beheer. Here are three classic ones:






Inga Strydom
I am a South African journalist with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and pushing the envelope on how people relate to the environment. I have seen some hectic things and I have heard my fair share of bizarre accounts. Follow me on Twitter where I go by my Dutch name:


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