Cruisers & cargo ships

In Amsterdam’s busiest shopping street is a big wooden door that opens into a corridor which leads into a church. Few shoppers notice the door, let alone pass it. But the transition is wonderful: you go from a crowded street, a cacophony, into the silence of a church, and leave the shopping street behind, if […]

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Marriage is a tree

Love isn’t like a flower, that withers every season. Love grows like a tree, branches upwards and roots downwards. One side ecstasy and fantasy, the other exposing our wounds and missing details. It grows both ways, it needs both opposite directions. And just like a tree, it leaves a ring for each year that passes. […]

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Strategy is specific, specifics are semantics

There is a difference between probability and possibility, between rationality and reason, empathy and sympathy, between dogma and ideal, strategy and tactics, differentiation and distinctiveness, and efficiency and effectiveness. To some, even the difference between whiskey or whisky matters — as with butter and margarine, or Great Britain and the United Kingdom. And when we […]

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Longing

It’s a fair price to pay to live in Shanghai, but being so far from the Netherlands makes me long for it a lot. The feeling arrives suddenly. I thought I’d be immune to it but no. I walk through familiar streets in Google Street View, I look back at last year’s pictures, and I […]

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Old Captain Bar

‘Old Captain Bar’ (老船长) at 168 Gaoyang Lu in Hongkou is my kind of sad place. It has shiny brewing tanks in its interior, five eager staff in turquoise jackets and a singer doing hits from the 90’s and 00’s, but not too loud, so you can still talk. The television shows figure skating – […]

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Language is about people and advertising is about language

It helps my job to see advertising as a language. Even if it’s not literally a dialogue, you are communicating to someone’s mind, tapping into what they already know, feel or do. If any message wants to stand a chance to be understood or felt, it must relate to someone. And the process to get […]

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The bowl with the cat printed on it

We closed our suitcases and did one final check in the house in which we had lived for a long year, to switch off the lights, lock the door and take the plane to Shanghai. And then we found one bowl with a cat printed on it, left in the sink. “Just throw it away”, […]

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Our struggle against pleasure

Today’s wellbeing increasingly comes from abstinence rather than indulgence. Smartphones halt day dreaming. Social media causes depressions. Commitments and emotional baggage stop us from developing deeper understandings. More people die from eating too much than starve. Yuval Noah Harari writes: “Sugar is now a greater danger than gunpowder. You are more likely to die from […]

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Strategy lessons from racing

Racing is life under high pressure, and I think advertising (or any industry) can learn a lot from how racing cars are designed. The car In the book ‘How to build a car‘, famed Formula One engineer Adrian Newey talks about cars he designed and the philosophy behind them. I think it’s interesting, because cars, […]

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