17 February 2009

Kinepolis: calling in the bloggers

"Druppels welcomed the bloggers, together with the Adhese team, as they arrived at the scenery.

Tapping the Groundswell
Robin showed up first. Shortly after the majority of the invited influentials had walked through the door and the drinks were ready to be served the cosy chatter amongst the bloggers started. The crowd knows each other. It's been years since I've had this awkward feeling of being a newbie. I comfort myself with some statistics, namely, that I knew 5 out of 40 attendees. Recognized more than 50% by recalling their faces from flashing avatars. And had found least one somebody with which talking was as if I'd knew him for years, knowing how to handle a
Westside accent has some advantages after all. Bob's nerves were almost untenable. I think be that time he could have given that presentation upside down, he was totally in on it. Bob, Bob Claeys, heir to the Kinepolis heritage. Bob, Kinepolis board-member and by far it's most enthusiastic evangelist. This guy breaths Kinepolis, lives Kinepolis, is (partly) Kinepolis. He would tell the invited crowd about how this company had grown, about their strengths and recent investments in innovative technologies. He was sweating. Although Bob did a great job on bringing an story with flair and lots of juice, still the bloggers were left clueless about their reason being there. Clueless about why their precious time was being occupied. Clueless about why they had been served free drinks, a grim impatience started to arise in the tone of voice of the comment spread through the Twitter services. Bob was talking too long and too loud... A small break came about right on time and the audience moved to a less 'listen to me' kind of space. Food was served, well food. Some bloggers obviously expected more than finger-food and popcorn. The story continued and a new face stood before the gang of online frontiers. The one and only CEO of Kinepolis was ready to take on the beating if necessary, Eddy Duquenne, a brave man. It was time to tune out from the fairy tale of history and wake up. Eddy had a calm, charismatic and unnatural appearance of authority. It was as if he owned the placed. This wasn't a man under siege, he must have been hypnotized. No. He was there, feet to the ground, listening. He explained briefly why he had invited everybody present. He explained their new strategy of listening and talking and shortly after moved to the Q&A. Most Belgian readers amongst you undoubtedly can recall the painful moments plenty of speakers confront when speaking before a Belgian audience, silence. No questions. But this wasn't the case at all. The audience didn't jump him like an outrage mob, the questions were neatly lined up. Time was exploited to raise hands, ask questions and change thoughts. Eddy wasn't being to defensive at all. He left a divine impression.

That question
Then someone popped that one question: "why is the founder of that Facebook group called Kinepolis gaat erover not invited to this talk? He is the reason why we are here, right?".
Eddy smiled and sat his ass down. "Well, as a matter of fact, no, that is not why you are here. At least not entirely. Yes, he is the reason why we have shifted gear in what were working on. But it is not 'because' of him you are here. You are here mainly because we want to start talking with our customers. And we have not invited him because we wanted to emphasize the fact that he is merely the reason for us to shift gears. Also, he has blanked us out, swamping us with negativity and we want to push ourself in the right direction without being defensive, without counterattacking. We want to focus on these new pathways we have chalked down and start off with a clean street. We want to let our audience, our customers, know that we are here from now on. We want to get the message out that we are listening. We took note of every post, every line, written on
the the wall of that Facebook-group and we are working on some of those demands as we speak. I know we haven't been there in the past. And I know we aren't there at the present. But I know we are going to be there in the future. Yes, we are going to remodel our website. Yes, we are going to grease our online ticketing. Of course we want them to be cheaper (instead of the way around few months ago) than the tickets you buy 'offline'. No, we don't want to push the price of our tickets to an outrages amount. It keeps some people from coming to our venues as well remember. But hey, Rome wasn't build in one day. We are an organization tackling a broad range of issues and these things need time. We have to take it slow, one step at a time, think things over sometime, but rest assured we will go on.
" — wooaw, I mean I was blown away. I myself'd never expect him to be this blunt, honest, with the crowd. Chapeau! And sure, the price of Coke and popcorn bought from the shops inside the venues is out of line but hey what's new. If the Coke is to expensive don't drink it. If your children are nagging for popcorn till your skull starts to open up, give them an asswhoopin' or get a nanny and tell her "no popcorn". Get them a better education or tell them popcorn kills. If the tickets are too expensive, don't go there (sorry that's a joke, go there just skip one meal ;)) But of course, Kinepolis has quite a monopoly on housing movie-theaters in our country, I agree. On the other hand, they do have the best seatings and offer. If you want to seduce a new lover and it works, it is worth the money, right? And if it's not you can always try and hook on some colleagues.

Flawless victory
With Eddy answering a dozen questions flawlessly something dawned to me. I was thinking this guy should start writing a blog on his own. No doubt his analytics would skyrock shortly after the release. After all who wouldn't want to hear news from the captain himself. He has something to say, he has the authority and he has an audience that is eager to talk. But. I wasn't actually there on invitation. I was on his side. And I wasn't fully on top of things concerning the development of the relationship between the agency I work for and his company, Kinepolis, our client. Would I be out of line? I was already out of line for tweeting that the speaker was to loud. Would I be out of line asking about his thought on this, let alone proposing him to do so. I must have bitten my tongue somewhere between 20 and 30 times, my lips were burning. I admit to not be being in control of my enthusiasm in participating and raised my hand. Eddy looked at me, clueless of the fact that I was actually a ProximityBBDO employee. I blended in naturally. Flanked by Dominiek and Goedles on my left and Houbi on my right. I started activating the small zone in my brain that is used for talking: "You answer flawless to each one of these questions. Why don't you take on write a blog of your own? I can imagine a blog written by somebody of your authority would undoubtedly be warmly welcomed by your customers." He answered with confidence, calm and self-assured: "Oh I will. Soon my friend, soon. We're working on it." He meant, I, in the near future. Funny. I was satisfied. A client that leveled. Wonderful.

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