In high school, I was never good at languages. Not in Dutch — learning advanced grammar — and not in French, German, or English. The latter I actually learned most from playing computer games online, but because it’s so similar to Dutch, I never really considered myself to be bilingual. I never had to embrace different sentence structures or different logic. Even English and Dutch homonyms rather match like ‘atmosphere’ (space/mood) or ‘objective’ (goal/part of a camera).

But Chinese is all different. Since late 2018 I’ve been learning Mandarin Chinese at GoEast Mandarin. I’ve gone from zero skills to well…


Vegans have grown a bad reputation because (or so the stereotype goes) they’d call out anyone eating meat — citing that meat is bad for animal welfare or climate reasons. They’re right, of course, but nobody wants to hear it.

Yet like-minded businesses have sought to sell soy burgers or start ecological supermarkets, to take on conventional supermarkets. They are yet to grow beyond a tiny niche.

The actual work is done by companies like The Vegetarian Butcher and Impossible Foods, that take on a whole different approach. …


  • Philip Morris launched Mission Winnow for a smoke free world, even though it’s nothing but a sloppy website with pointless terms like ‘passion’ and ‘innovation’.
  • The Dutch Royal Airlines is going to make (a tiny bit) of kerosine from bio waste.
  • Starbucks will ban straws (even though had already promised us a recycled cup for 2015).
  • BP spend a lot of words to talk about ‘Beyond Petroleum’, but in two decades showed zero plans.
  • Coca Cola talks about ‘a world without waste’, even though it has been the main source of plastic waste for years, and actively campaigns against deposit…

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 there is a like a dialogue too, starting from research into strategy and into production. It’s not a one-way street into whatever you wish to create. Advertising does not create culture, it follows it. And it should not be reduced to an algorithm.

Some marketeers…


There is a distinct 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.

And to some, even the difference between whiskey or whisky matters — as with butter and margarine, or Great Britain and the United Kingdom. When we label apps ‘the Facebook of China’ or label markets with ‘neo-colonialism’, we provide handles but hinder deeper understanding, because we ignore the specifics.

It’s not about how complicated the words we use are, or how many words we use. There’s a vast difference between…


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, like many things (such as buildings, advertising campaigns, operating software) are complex pieces of equipment with various functions, often conflicting ones. Do you design an app to be entertaining or slick? Do you design a building to be functional or aesthetic? …


I’ve now taken two months of Mandarin classes, and last week our teacher taught us the words for cat (māo) and dog (gǒu) — and as a sort of fun extracurricular, she also explained the sounds they make: “miaow” and “wang” — or rather; how those sounds are perceived by Chinese. In the Netherlands, a dog’s bark is perceived and imitated as “woef”, not “wang”. My teacher explained that this difference lies more in the ears of people hearing it, rather than the dog’s barking it, as Chinese people are perceptive to different sounds than Dutch people. While my mother-language…


Lake Victoria is a huge fresh water basin that lies in between Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. For over 500,000 years, rainfall and thousands of small streams gathered here and flowered northwards through the White Nile river. After 4,000 kilometers, the river is joined by the Blue Nile. Together they form the Nile, which flows through Egypt and north onwards into the Mediterranean Sea — where the water evaporates and spreads all over the world, to start its cycle all over again.

And it’s in this area that some 6,000 years ago many tribes settled, fleeing the rapid desertification of North…


Two out of three trees in Shanghai are London plane trees.

City planners call it a super tree, because its shallow roots don’t break up roads. It also has a high tolerance to pests and diseases, and can handle temperatures both high and low. It needs little water, survives heavy pruning, captures smog and carbon well, and grows in most soils. It has a leafy canopy provides shade in hot summers — and it has a distinct look with its crooked branches and camouflage-patterned bark.

The London plane tree is a hybrid between the American sycamore and the Oriental plane…


As an individual, we’re never certain whether others have thoughts and inner workings just like our own, simply because we can never look into someone else’s mind. The most we can do is to figure that if others have normal human interactions, they’re probably conscious like ourselves.

Alan Turing proposed that we test computers the same way; through interacting. If computers are capable of human interactions, would that mean they’re conscious? In his 1950 paper, Turing wanted to answer the big question, ‘Can machines think?’, and devised a test which is now known as the Turing Test.

To pass the…

Jaap Grolleman

KesselsKramer & Virtual Racing School

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