To be honest, the real sentence that Willem Alexander used closing off his birthday celebration at the High-Tech Campus in Eindhoven was: “This was an unforgettable day, but also a day never to repeat.” Especially the last words seemed carefully prepared, to share the kings wish that days of lockdown would be over soon.
Looking at this event with professional eyes, we observe a few things. It was one of the first hybrid events in the Netherlands. Almost a lab experiment with our royal family. The original plan was to include the kids of princess Margriet, an ensemble of eleven people. But a few weeks before the event it was decided to limit the group on location, as corona statistics were still worrying.
It was also an event with a huge budget. Eindhoven had almost €1,8 million to spend on this celebration on April 27, most of it made available by the city. The main reason why the local council agreed to this sum is city marketing. Of course many locals were involved and the money was supposed to support regional business – event professionals who had a tough year, the mayor mentioned them in the run-up. But Eindhoven’s main objective was to demonstrate its capabilities as a high-tech town.
Majestic Media Bites
Did Eindhoven succeed? We think it will take a few months to determine. Of course we can look at viewing stats to see that millions have watched (parts of) the show and how many participated in online activities. Eindhoven offered several engagement options via the dedicated website that showed not only the TV-report but also a few parallel programs. It allowed people for instance to watch the TV report together with others via NOS Samen and chat about the event.
But in this era of fragmented audiences the king’s long-tail might be more important. We think the whole event can be seen as a source for many media moments, snapshots, fragments, clips and other majestic media bites. What really mattered was not that those two hours on the campus were coherent and entertaining for all live viewers (1.9M actually watched), but the creation of moments that define our memories. As Eindhoven rapper Fresku shouted from the roofs of the high-tech campus that evening: “History has been made!”
So what were royal snapshots that could attract attention in the international press? The arrival of the king and his daughter in the DAF Kini, a customized car that was gifted to the royal family when Willem Alexander was born by the only Dutch car maker DAF in Eindhoven. Other automotive media moments were created when the three princesses competed in a virtual Formula 1 Race on the Zandvoort circuit, followed up by their dad laying down in this digital race car.
Quizing the Royals
Another unusual sight was the whole royal family cheering when they won a quiz, competing with four other families. These participated via screens in a studio. The quiz itself was a somewhat boring part of the program. Who knows how many inhabitants a certain village near Eindhoven has? But the pictures show a playful family that enjoys a game together.
The quiz was part of a roundtable setting with a somewhat puzzled presenter. You would expect a debate or at least a conversation, but apparently the moderator was not allowed to ask any questions. So this quiz was probably an improvised solution to involve the royal family in some sort of interaction with local households.
All in all we would say that Eindhoven did a good job. We got to experience a true celebration. The royal family was shown from unique perspectives. The program gave us a glimpse of Eindhoven. And the high tech industries of the region were represented in a playful way. There were a few moments when sponsors seemed to be running the show, but these are forgotten quick. What stays are unique impressions of the Dutch royals having a fun day out. The results: Germany loves our future queen Amalia and in Argentina (birthplace of queen Maxima) some are calling for Alexia to rule their country.