I’ll miss this

My life today looks like this:
wake up. email. more email. homework. more homework. yearbook. bus. chat with friends I randomly met. Talk to first year students about my internship experience. Lunch with classmates and friends. Chat with more friends. Chat. Chat. Chat. (Hey, I am a girl, that’s what I do!). Become nostalgic about missing all of this chatting soon. Walk over to the library with Al. Type this blogpost. From here on ’til tonight: work on the yearbook. More yearbook. Figure out what to do with my life. Talk to my parents. Meet with the other student ambassadors to do a final run through of our slot for the upcoming admits weekend. Eat pizza. Chat some more. Hopefully have a pint in the pub. Go home on bus. Chat to my housemate. Sleep. 

CPM is everywhere!

Outside the Windsor Castle tonight
Outside the Windsor Castle tonight, having a drink on the picknick benches, when I saw this sign… CPM (LBS MBA elective Creativity and Personal Mastery that I’m taking right now) is everywhere :-)


Even this over-zealous MBA student needs a break from the MBA every now and again and what better way than to celebrate a mini-one-day holiday in my own lovely London? I woke up, pottered around for a bit, then headed over to the V&A to check out their Surrealism exhibit, which I liked after a rocky start. Once you walk in, you’re plunged headfirst into surrealism, and for someone like me who only really knew Dali and Magritte a little, it was a bit confusing. I decided to lean into it though, instead of getting frustrated and I ended up enjoying the exhibit a lot especially the furniture and ballet sections.

After buying some postcards (I have a thing for museumshops and the one at the V&A is one of the best and most imaginative I’ve seen) I headed over to Harrods, tourist destination extraordinaire. Their foodhalls are some of the best in London, and I got some lunch, wandered into Hyde Park and had a lovely picknick. Read John Maeda’s Laws of Simplicity which I enjoyed tremendously (read it if you’re interested in design, you won’t regret it), worked on my tan, and then headed over to Oxford Street to check out Primark. Ever since it opened a little while ago, there’s been a lot of hooha about it and I wanted to see it for myself. Oh my word. It’s definitely a retail phenomenon, even though it isn’t my taste. It was interesting to see people drag baskets of clothes around as if they were giving them away for free and most weirdly: there was an endless line in front of the changing rooms, with dresses for £8, I would take a gamble and not wait 30 minutes in line to try it on I guess…

Tomorrow it’s back to MBA reality with the kick off of the class gift campaign, CPM class and yearbook preparations.

Hey, what’s this?

509444126_6e0d5a63c7I think if you’re a direct marketer, this must be your dream response. I walk out the door, rummage through the small mountain of mail stacked by the front door and see this (see picture on the left) and think ‘hey, what’s this?’. If you can’t make out from the photo, it’s a pink plastic (quite thick) envelope with T-mobile welcome pack in it. A bit weird that it came only now, since I’ve already had my first bill… but better late than never. First impression: wow, impressive, they get me to be curious about what’s inside and opening it instead of chucking it in the bin. Second impression: what a letdown. Inside is a perfectly nice booklet, and a nice letter saying welcome, but nothing out of the ordinary. Darn it, you almost had me with the envelope alone, if T-mobile had only put something IN the envelope that lived up to the envelope itself!

It’s week 5 of the final term and things are finally starting to slow down a little bit, to a tempo that feels a little bit more comfortable. Second year project is handed in (although I’m still working on part of it, long story), and now all my attention is going towards my Creativity and Personal Mastery class, the class gift, the yearbook and the upcoming admits weekend. That and catching up on email and stuff that fell by the wayside in the past 3 weeks of second year project rush. And of course, I’m enjoying the gorgeous weather that we’re having at the mo’!

Face of Fashion

Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery
Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. It was good. Not mind-blowingingly awesome, but pretty good and well worth the effort.

[edit: So I thought about this exhibit some more. There were a lot more women than men visiting the exhibit. Is it art or advertising? Or both? This was my favourite photographer. But I also like this guy’s photos a lot. The National Portrait Gallery rocks. Listen to the exhibit here. If you want to see it, hurry, Face of Fashion closes May 28th.]

Why I like BA so much

Why do I love certain brands? I think it must as hard to figure out as why you like your friends. There’s a lot of post-rationalization going on I think. I like this friend because he’s fun. She makes me smile. I like hanging out with them. But I have no clue why (this ties into a book I recently read on happiness, see the left bar for the title, which pointed out that us humans are crap at predicting what will make us happy).

An example of a brand I really like. I like British Airways. Don’t ask me why, but I do. They offer a number of objective benefits I appreciate. They fly from Heathrow (and not some airport in the sticks). I’ve got a frequent flyer’s pass with them (my only one. That might shock American readers, all my US friends seem to have enough airmiles to fly to the end of our galaxy and back, but Europeans on the whole don’t really do a lot of frequent flying). I like the uniforms (I think it’s the hats, I’m fond of hats). They fly at times that suit me. I like that they serve my tea with milk. But there’s also plenty that I don’t like about them. They are crap when you need a lastminute flight. It takes a gazillion airmiles to actually get something for free. Their food is appalling (but then again most airline food is). So why do I still fly with them and not any of the lord-knows-how-many airlines that fly between LHR and AMS*? I don’t know. I really don’t. Is it that I don’t like the other airlines? And this one’s the one that’s the best of the worst? Or is there something that I can’t put my finger on that I like about them? I just know that I have a fondness for them. And that I prefer flying with them if at all possible. And that’s what I’ll do on Father’s Day, fly home for a few days before graduation.

Does anyone know of why this is? Why do we love brands for completely irrational reasons, whereas other brands could offer the same in terms of product or service benefits? What’s that intangible bit extra that makes you come back for more?

* Why, you ask, my dear reader, don’ t I prefer any of the Dutch airlines, being Dutch myself? I don’t know. I am proud of them. But I also have an irrational thing against them and against KLM in particular. I don’t like the kneuterigheid (you have to be Dutch for this one, it’s completely lost in any translation) and the jovial tone. I don’t like how they send me emails for special sales with ticket prices that are more expensive than tickets I can get somewhere else not on sale but cheaper. I don’t like to be called ‘we’ (‘do we want a cup of tea?’ ‘Ehm, no thank you, I am fine’) and the pettiness (AMS airport check in. The bag limit is 20kgs. I’m at 22.5 kgs. ‘Miss, when you fly home, you’re going to have to take less stuff’. Ehm. ‘I AM flying home. That’s why my suitcase is so full, I’m bringing back goodies from my parents.’ No reaction. Big opportunity missed to convert me into an KLM evangelist. BA have never, ever, even once complained about 2.5 kgs too much.). Completely irrational, I know.

Alright. Rant over. Procrastination 15 minutes are up. This second year project needs proofreading, spell-checking, printing out, binding and handing in.

This could very well be

the second nicest cheesecake I’ve ever had (it’s the swiss mountain one, available here, made by this company). The best is still my mum’s. Nothing beats her cheesecake. Or appeltaart (Dutch apple pie).

The student ambassadors were treated to dinner last night by the admissions office. Admits Weekend 2007 is coming up fast and we’re getting ready to receive the MBA2009 class on campus on June 1st, 2nd and 3rd: the first year student ambassadors and the admissions office are running around like mad trying to get everything organized, this year I’m taking a back seat in organizing, although I’ll definitely be there on the weekend itself (come up and say hi if you’re coming!) running around like a headless chicken.

In the meantime I’m still working hard on my 2YP, it’s kinda coming together now, later than I’d hoped, but better late than never. Special mention goes out to my very good friend H who helped me with the model, without you I’d still be stuck :-)

Knocks the spots off the competition

Now this is a good review to get! The napkin belongs to a company called Eat, based here in London, and they have great lunchfood, I can highly recommend it.

Seeing that my previous entries were a bit photo happy (you can tell that with the new phone, I’m no less trigger happy ;-), it’s time to write a quick update on life that’s a bit more text-heavy. Life is good. It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m working on my second year project (or 2YP in LBS MBA speak), for which my deadline is this coming Friday and I love working on it, even though it sometimes feels it’s taking over my life. The one other academic thing I’m doing this term is Creativity and Personal Mastery course, and that’s better than I had imagined, I think this is the most important course I’m taking during my MBA. I’m involved with the LBS 2007 Class Gift (for the unitiated: we’re pledging to give money to LBS once we graduate) and the LBS 2007 Yearbook, plus I’m still doing student ambassador duties, and some smaller sundry stuff. And occasionally I’m squeezing in practice runs for my 10k race planned for July and if there’s time left, I’ll sleep. Go to SANZA and birthday parties. And blog. A girl’s gotta have priorities!

Happy birthday to my dad, whose birthday it is today! And best belated mom’s day wishes to mum :-)

My life…

Aprilser02_2[source: Loesje]

Been thinking about jobs a lot lately. The jobs I’ve gotten so far in my life hardly ever happened because of my CV. My internship didn’t. And my freelance job didn’t. Yet I spent a large amount of time crafting my CV (as most b-school students do). I suppose my life does not fit in my CV. I suppose this blog in a lot of ways is better than my CV. This is who I am, this is what I see, hear, think about and read. Much better than the pdf titled Natasja’s CV. Loesje is brilliant.

I’ve added a Justgiving.com widget top right, no, I’m not raising money for myself (Lord knows I could do with a few pennies… but there are billions of people that need it much more than I do), but for a great charity called Room To Read. Check it out and if the spirit moves you, please consider donating something. Anything. It will be much appreciated.

Welcome to the Green Light District (in honor of Koninginnedag)

  Walked to the bus stop last week, saw this poster and my heart jumped… Grolsch comes from my hometown (well, it used to, although the factory has since relocated, the spiritual home of Grolsch is still my hometown) and I’m always proud when I see it abroad. However, in this case I was also piqued by the ad itself: green light district? For a Dutch beer? (Disclaimer: where I’m from, we don’t have a red-light district. We’re a million miles away from Amsterdam, literally and figuratively). What were they getting at? Are they importing the red light district into the UK? Intrigued, I decided to check out the website and do some background research on the of the who’s and how’s behind this campaign.

Apparently, the campaign was first started in Edinburgh, and is now rolled out across the UK. The idea is to bring a Dutch beer-drinking experience to the English crowd (and Lord knows they could use it… they have no clue about what a proper Grolsch should look like) and to engage the bar staff. The aim of "the Green Light District is all about serving quality beer with quality service" (from this). I think this is a brilliant idea which I can see working well with the crowd they’re after if they’re trying to initiate trial and increase brand awareness (which I reckon what they must be trying to do). It’s fun, quirky, special and stands out from the beer-competition. Nice execution too.

Check out this and this and this on the objectives and a description of the campaign, and this to read what the Publican (a trade rag for pubs) says about the campaign and this for some more background on the agency behind the campaign. And if you want to see some other cool advertising Grolsch has done, check out this on Youtube and this. I wonder what prof Ritson thinks about the Grolsch marketing strategy…

Oh, and happy belated Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day, see here for the explanation) everyone!