Skating on thin ice

Has the unemployment benefit office achieved just what it hoped for with its sponsorship of American speed skater Shani Davis?

MPs got hot and bothered about the deal and made a fuss, guaranteeing the office lots of newspaper coverage of its new company. After all, the office said the deal did not involve much money and was the best value way of getting its message across.
Hardly surprising then that the cost-conscious social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner agrees.
Still, it is a bit odd. For a start, the benefit office is a public sector operation not a private company. Its function is to find people work, not sponsor skaters.
Anyone who is unemployed knows about it, and any employer looking for staff knows about it. So why quite so much effort needs to be put into advertising its new name – Werkbedrijf – is a moot point. After all, Werkbedrijf is a lot easier to remember than UWV and CWI – the two bits of the civil service which have formed this great new company.
And then, to be chauvinistic for a moment, why pick a foreign skater (and praise his work ethic) when Holland has so many top skaters of its own?
Perhaps not the cleverest bit of brand building: use our services because we’re backing the man who beats so much of our home-grown talent.

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