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A call for humour

There seems nothing to laugh about lately… Humour in ads has declined for over 20 years. Due to the multiple crises we’re facing today, brands feel the urge (while being encouraged by employees and consumers) to contribute positively to society; however, advertising about a serious cause often doesn’t seem to go hand in hand with humour. On top of that, the constantly changing social rulebook makes it hard to keep track of what’s appropriate to say and what’s not. No wonder marketers increasingly play it safe rather than sorry.

However, purpose and humour aren’t mutually exclusive. When done right, they can even strengthen each other. Think of Oatly (‘The Milk Lobby Thinks You’re Stupid‘) or the Barbie movie, which portrayed the future and gender roles to such an absurd level that people could laugh about it, while at the same time starting to question traditional gender roles and expectations.

Especially during these weary times, we could use some laughter. When we laugh, our brains release a cocktail of healthy hormones: cortisol, endorphins, and oxytocin. It’s like exercising, meditating, and having sex at the same time! Sharing laughter or having a sense of humour shortens the distance between people, making them more open to disclosing personal information. Humour can defuse tension and bring us together like nothing else. And yet, humour is often missing in many parts of our lives. Marketers, shall we make humour your main KPI of 2024?

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Douwe Knijff

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Kim Pillen


Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips,, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff


Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.


Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist