Dutch Language Blog

Campaigns in NL 3 – Bob jij of bob ik? Posted by on Nov 26, 2014 in Culture

Drunk driving is bad: Alcohol delays reflexes, diminishes focus and attention. Especially in traffic this is a big problem, because with drunk driving you also endanger other traffic participants. The Dutch government came up with a great campaign to reduce the temptation and make it socially unacceptable to drive under influence.

Bob jij of Bob ikis the question to be asked! The Bob is the person that does not drink and drives the others home: the “designated driver”, basically. Bob is just the name, it is not an abbreviation. People tend to think that, because in the beginning of the campaign in December 2001, the media advertised BOB as meaning Bewust Onbeschonken Bestuurder (conciously sober driver), but that is not intended! The original campaign started in Belgium in 1995, and due to its success, the Dutch adapted it. Veilig Verkeer Nederland, the organization that is also responsible for the campaign De scholen zijn weer begonnen, realized the Bob-campaign together with the Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat (Ministry of Traffic, Public Works and Water Management) and the importers and producers of alcoholic beverages.


The Bob-campaign was advertised in various ways, for example in TV commercials, with different slogans. For example, this one:

(He orders cassis, which is a non-alcoholic soda with blackcurrant flavor). The slogan is 100% Bob, 0% op (100% Bob, 0% drunk (iets op hebben means “to have drunk something alcoholic”).

Another slogan is Daar kun je mee thuis komen (With that you can come home), which is also the website: daarkunjemeethuiskomen.nl. This also is a bit ambiguous: “daar kun je mee thuis komen” is also an expression of something great that you can proudly show to your family at home, e.g. a good grade for school or some other great news!

There is also quite some merchandise. One quite popular one is the Bob-sleutelaanhanger (Bob key chain).

In 2010, a follow-up was launched: je bent top, Bob! (you are great, Bob!), where the people brought home could thank the Bob.

Currently, the campaign is focused on sports clubs that have parties after matches etc., with the slogan scoor eerst een Bob (first score a Bob).

The Bob-sleutelaanhanger! (Image by Knowledge at Wikimedia Commons, commons.wikipedia.org)


The big question of course: did it work?

After 13 years of this campaign with banners like the one on the right and other ways to reach people, the term Bob really made it into Dutch vocabulary. Ik ben de Bob is a phrase everybody understands. According to research among the Dutch conducted in 2008, 97% is aware of Bob and its meaning. The majority of the people designates a Bob before leaving the house to make sure they get home safely. I think it is safe to say it is a success!

First a Bob, then a fluitje (a small beer) (Image by M. Minderhoud at Wikimedia Commons, at commons.wikimedia.org)

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.