Their relationship to their Royal Family is relaxed and unconstrained, typical traits of the Dutch. They are monarchists without a “stiff upper lip“, and the birthday of their head of state, a national holiday, is traditionally celebrated as a folk festival, involving all sectors of the population. This year the Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) became an historical event: Queen Beatrix abdicated in favour of her son Willem Alexander and this royal succession gave rise to absolute superlative festivities. “The atmosphere in Amsterdam was fantastic,“ reported John Swaab, CEO of Het Portaal Uitgevers, organisers of the promotional products trade show PromZ and editor of the promotional products trade magazine PromZ Magazine and PromZ Vak. Swaab himself celebrated with 34 friends on a boat sailing around the canals of the capital city. It was a festival in oranje, the colour of the Royal Family, and in view of the countless flags and crowns, orange-coloured wigs and T-shirts that were seen all over the country on the day, Swaabs summary is easy to follow: “It was also a very good day for promotional products players.“
Severe time pressure
“We got cracking with the preparations as soon as Queen Beatrix announced her intention to abdicate on January 28,“ explained Verena Terhalle, Senior Account Manager at Toppoint. But the deadline of April 30 was very tight: “There wasn’t enough time to import mugs from the Far East, so we had to purchase extra stock from Eastern Europe,“ commented Terhalle. Products bearing the portraits of the Royal Family were produced in three shifts. The Royal Family had released official photos of Queen Beatrix and the new royal couple as print copies – however these were only allowed to be printed onto promotional products implemented by communities and schools. “It was hardly possible to satisfy the demand. A lot of these ceramic and porcelain items were sold out weeks before the festivities,“ reported Terhalle. The best-sellers at Toppoint were mugs bearing the royal portrait, almost half a million were sold. “Mugs are always popular long-term promotional products and a vast number of Dutch people wanted to have a souvenir of this historic event. The coronation celebrations were quite simply a fan day for the monarchy. The Royal Family is extremely popular and it manages to represent and integrate itself within all layers and generations of the population,“ explained Terhalle.
The coronation festivities were officially opened by the “Koningsspelen“ (Royal Games), a sports and games day for all Dutch school children aged between 6 and 12, which was also attended by the royal couple-to-be. Sponsors donated orange T-shirts bearing the logo of the event to the 1.3 mil. children. “It was a huge challenge to have such a high volume manufactured and imprinted in such a short space of time,“ noted Tamara Slomp, Purchasing Manager of Interimage, the company assigned to deliver the shirts. “In organisational terms it wasn’t possible to have such a high number of cotton shirts manufactured in China. So in agreement with the sponsors we opted for a polyester version that is suitable for use as sports garments and which could be produced on time in China. The Dutch airline KLM assumed responsibility for the transport – there wasn’t enough time for the goods to be shipped to Holland.“
Nobody was to be left out of the celebratory mood: All residents of Dutch old people’s homes were presented with a “Koningssoesje“ (Royal cream puff) to celebrate the enthronement of their new King. In total 500,000 cakes were distributed, among others at the kitchens of the needy. But not every well-meant idea went down well: The Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan had planned to have school children fly 150,000 balloons up into the sky on Koninginnedag. However, this caused a stir among environmentalists, who claimed this could prove dangerous for birds and other animals. Van der Laans arguments that the balloons were to be made out of a bio-degradable material and that no cords were to be attached to prevent birds getting caught up in them, were of no avail. He had to give in to the protests and the campaign was cancelled – however not without failing to mention how much the cancellation would cost the City of Amsterdam.
It wasn’t just the communities who went to town with promotional products though, companies didn’t miss out on the opportunity to profit from the enthusiasm for the monarchy either. Orange-coloured sparkling wine was on sale in the shelves of the supermarket chain Albert Heijn and their customers were able to swap discount coupons for coffee spoons that had been designed specially as coronation souvenirs in a marketing cooperation with the coffee manufacturer Douwe Egberts – 300,000 spoons were produced in total. Douwe Egberts even went a step further: Its traditionally red packets of coffee were exchanged for bright orange ones in commemoration of the big day. The department store, Herma, on the other hand had opted for the colours of the Dutch flag: Distributing 140,000 red, white and blue crowns to its customers.
The Dutch Royal Family’s generation change also attracted a lot of attention in Germany, where the last Emperor Wilhelm II didn’t exactly leave a sense of longing for the reintroduction of the monarchy, but where, in the face of the accustomed republican sobriety, royal glamour does have its own fascination. For the Dutch Office of Tourism & Convention (NBTC) this was a welcome occasion to launch a PR and online campaign for city trips to Holland. In cooperation with the airline Easyjet, which offers direct flights between Amsterdam and Berlin, the NBTC advertised trips to Amsterdam and to the neighbouring cities The Hague and Utrecht throughout the German capital.
A huge prize-draw machine was installed in a prominent place in the centre of Berlin, on the Kurfürstendamm, which kept churning out among others orange-coloured crowns, fatboys and Dutch bicycles. Michael Siebers, Marketing/ PR Coordinator of the NBTC, is very satisfied with the response: “Approx. 1,000 people took part and there were around 100,000 onlookers. We also enhanced this locally limited campaign with viral effects by shooting a video that can be called up on Facebook and Youtube. The brand Holland is an attraction in itself and as a result of the high media interest the Queen’s Day generated a big buzz – which we were able to take advantage of.“
The Dutch can also look forward to a further historic date next year, albeit on a slightly smaller scale: On April 27, the birthday of the first King to reign for 120 years, the public will be able to celebrate King’s Day again – it goes without saying that the Dutch promotional products players certainly appreciate their monarchy. Ung