While we, at the Haarlem head office, saw winter dragging its feet and giving us false hope of any natural ice to skate on – Merijn was off to a flying start on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in January. Because to him, it is also all about ‘America First’ this year (with the rest of the world second, naturally).
Listen Merijn, I know it is way past the acceptable timespan but: Happy New Year! Tell me, did you really have nothing but water on New Year’s Eve?
I have to say: I did not overly ‘wine the water’ during the holidays. I live a virtually non-alcoholic life nowadays and it does not feel like a sacrifice at all. Quite the contrary actually: I feel fit and healthy.
OMG. Do not tell me you have joined the joggers in Central Park as well!
Frankly: YES! Central Park is around the corner from where I live, so I go jogging there every day. And of course I have installed the Nike app on my phone – like a true American would – so when I come home the ‘fun’ continues with 20 minutes of exercises.
You do understand we will never believe it until we have seen it for ourselves, now do you?
Eh, is your contract not about to end? 😉
And how has Dopper been doing this past month?
Very, very well. I am confident we have a wonderful team and with the recent addition of a freelance project manager for the Plastic Bridge, a sales consultant and two freelancers – a graphic designer & a videographer – we have skills available for a variety of communication purposes. The team now includes all disciplines and nothing can stop us from making Dopper great in the US.
And how is it hanging with the Plastic Bridge?
We are still discussing the size of this bridge made from 50,000 pet bottles. The council considered the initial size too big – very un-American, who would have thought? We will probably have scaled it down to a smaller size near Jane’s carousel by April.
Can you still walk the streets unnoticed since your fame started with a video on American news platform NowThis?
Haha, I was just as surprised as all of you are. The video about the Plastic Bridge was posted without us knowing it. I suddenly saw it in my timeline when I woke up and remember thinking ’what a strange clip’. When I watched it again later, I saw it had already been viewed 230,000 times. That is when I started thinking ‘uh-oh, I’m going to be famous ;)’. But most of all I was thrilled to see Americans are open to this awareness project.
How did you end up with NowThis?
Jeff Kirschner introduced me. He is the founder of Litterati; an app that provides insight into the staggering amount of litter in the world by collecting pictures users have posted with a hashtag of the litter ‘brand’ (for instance #nestle). He then makes governments and brands aware of their responsibility with regard to litter. He once confronted a local taco business, for instance, with pictures of the massive amounts of unopened packets of taco sauce littering the streets. Because it turned out that 99% of those packets had been thrown away unopened, that particular business immediately stopped providing the packets.
Oh, I am getting off topic, am I? Well, Jeff introduced me to NowThis, a news platform with 9 million Facebook followers. NowThis will cover the entire Plastic Bridge process, so there are more videos to come.
Does this mean you will have your very own soap opera in the US?
Something like that, but without the fiendish intrigues, love affairs and Brooke and Ridge.
And what is to come in the next few months?
We have opened our first US outlet very recently, but we will open our second shop-in-shop at the Chelsea Market on February 7! They mainly sell juices and cocktails there, so if customers buy a Dopper, they get a watercocktail for free.
Wow, so business is really going well?
Absolutely, although it is still tricky to get chains to come on board; they want their margins, we want to get our message across. But you know what they say, if the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain. That is why we are opening our own shop-in-shops. Those shops show us that Americans are certainly warming to our brand and mission. The difference between American and Dutch consumers? Americans like it biiiiig, so the Dopper Steel is very popular here.