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Meet Chris Van Roey, President of the Belgian Advertiser Association (UBA)
I was born… on a kitchen table in Mechelen, Belgium. This probably explains my passion for good food and cooking.
I studied… applied economics at KU Leuven and specialised in (please do not tell anyone) accounting and fiscal matters. I became a university assistant and founded the university’s ‘Centre of Microcomputers’ in the early eighties.
When I started in the marketing industry… life as a marketer was pretty simple. Limited touchpoints, straightforward customer journeys, single media currencies, easy metrics and the 4 Ps of Kotler as the Holy Bible. Slowly the new consumer, the exponential growth of touchpoints and the digitalisation of our industry made things more complex. Decoding this complexity became one of my favourite hobbies and my main focal area at UBA.
My proudest career achievements… five years at Colruyt, a Belgian retail company, gave me the sales basics and a pragmatic approach. 10 years at Apple Computer taught me the importance of extreme customer obsession. 12 years at Mobistar, the telecoms company, gave me enough time to develop a successful brand from zero, for which I was awarded with the title ‘Master Marketer’. And 11 years at UBA… to reinvent our association with my team to where it is today.
Our main priority… at UBA is to create membership value in everything we do. We stimulate a creative, innovative and transparent communication ecosystem enabling strong and sustainable brands. Our latest priorities: grow our member base (today we have 332 companies on the member list), launch the Digital Ad Trust label (end of August) and become an ally of UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance (done).
Challenges in the marketing industry in my country are… very similar with other countries. These are: to regain consumer trust; to repair the digital ecosystem; to reinvent a cross-media measurement system; to promote self-regulation and to limit regulation; and to decode complexity.
If I could change one thing about the industry today, it would be…to ban all ‘bad and boring’ advertising which is irritating, uncreative and not sustainable. I would promote creativity wherever possible. In that way we can reconnect with our consumers.
What most people don’t know about me is… in 1976 I co-founded the ‘Hobby Computer Club’ in Belgium. In the first year we grew to 1500 members. Together with other ‘digital-natives-avant-la-lettre’ we evangelised the use of microcomputers for consumers, education and industry.
Three things about my country…
- Belgium is a politically-complex country with two regions that are very different in many aspects.
- Our marketers are very efficient and pragmatic: they generate great results with small budgets.
- We are known for chocolate, mussels, ‘Belgian’ fries and beer, but on top of that Belgium is a very high-end gastronomic place.
This is part of a series of monthly interviews with heads of national advertiser associations in WFA membership.