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Animals in advertising - Hymenoptera - Bee
Of the many thousands of bee species, only the honey bee and occasionally a bumblebee are considered suitable for advertising work. We see bees mainly in a context of com­mu­nication, cooperation, productivity, efficiency, expertise and perfection.

Writers are probably amazed at the energetic activity around the hive and see it as evidence of efficient process­es, perfect working methods, and superior com­mu­nication between workers. It is however not always clear what the exact line of thinking was behind the call for a bee.

first published: iii.2021

Several companies active
in the IT-world love to use some kind of animals in their adver­tisements. Take f.e. Elephants used because of their strong memory and for their size, or Mice because of the device, their small size, and because they are silent. Bees also are a popular choice, but I understand from our samples that writers do not feel comfortable with bees. They, the writers, don't seem to know how to get the bees to make a meaningful contribution to the message.

Virtualization – more than
the sum of its components is said in our No. 1, and also More productive thanks to teamwork —between the servers, that is, not between people. The image shows about fifty bees writing a giant's number eight in the blue sky. I am not sure how this story must be read. My best guess is that teamwork is the key word and that the 8-shape relates to the waggle dance. The dance of the honeybee is a type of animal communication that most people are aware of. The waggle dance is performed to share information about food-site loca­tions with nestmates () and its path may be roughly described as a number eight. It looks like the writer had only a cursory look at the literature: the dance is performed by a single worker, and some mates may trace her steps, but it is not a group event. The waggle dance is done inside the hive and on the honeycomb. It is not an event of the open skies. The verdict: not particularly well done.

(1) 2006 – More productive thanks to teamwork — virtualized servers.
(2) 1993 – Unix is the future of computing — operating system.
(3) 1986 – A honeycomb is technically perfect — surface mounted devices.

Unix is a honeypot
and bumblebees love it, that is what we learn from this advertisement from 1993 (No. 2). The story is about UNIX's acceptance as an operating system. The honey­pots are the past — Twenty years ago, very few applications were written for UNIX—, and the present — Today very few applications are not written for UNIX. There is a long text explaining how trust­worthy the operating system is, but there is not the slightest mention of honey, or bumblebees and their behaviour. Why they were chosen is a mystery.

We have another honeypot in No. 13, a platform for Customer Relationship Management. Are they implying that CRM is all about honeypots and buttering someone up?

The Surface Mounted Devices
of No. 3 took Nature as an example. Brace yourself for the text, in Dutch, which explains it all. The opening paragraph : A honeycomb — a typical example of the technical perfection in nature. The material and tools can hardly be surpassed. The site appears to have been carefully chosen. And the technology has been around for thousands of years. The biologists talk about instinct. Or evolution. Then comes the link with the technology  An evolution can also be observed in the field of electronic components: the SMD technology … Just like nature, a complex procedure, …. Et voila, no better choice possible than a honeycomb with some bees. They have it right, though, that the working of Nature is complex and not always easily understood.

The honey comb
is also prominently present in No. 4 about workstations that will ensure increased efficiency of your professional applications in an optimized standard and office work environment. That is why they are the only workstations worthy of the name says the title. The bee, working all day for the good of the colony in the hive, stands for you, the employee, doing long days for the good of the company. The environment that makes it all possible is represented by the honeycomb which is indeed optimized and standardized. It's not an approach that leaves me speechless, but it's still much better than the previous, and next, examples.

(4) 1997 – Workstations worthy of the name.
(5) 2000 – Pollen helps the brain — printing paper.

Pollen is said
to help oxygenate the brain … we learn from advertisement No. 4 for printing paper. You are told the good news because you deserve to know that taking it [pollen] helps your brain function a fraction faster, a fraction smarter. And they continue with Why do we want you to think smarter ? Because we know that when ideas are communicated on paper, the more sense you appeal to, the more areas of the brain that are brought into play, the more impact your message has. … () And therefore you should print on this specific kind of paper. I urgently need more pollen, that's for sure.

Printing on paper
is about communication and partnership (No. 6). The reference to the dancing and the team work of bees is obvious and clear without a convoluted story. We find the same message with a similar kind of illustration on the front page of a brochure of a printing plant: producing good printed matter is a matter of cooperation and communication (No. 7).

We stay with
the same kind of business with No. 8, about digital colour proofing. True, photo­realistic colour is most often communicated with a situation where an animal (preferably a cat, or a mouse) devours the print instead of the real thing (see [True Colour]). A colour calibration target needs to be added when the target is a printing professional. So it's clear whom is the target. However, the picture transmits no, or at least not the real colour message ! If the print was realistic, the bees should swarm to the flowers and not stay on the combs.

(6) 2002 – Communication & partnership — printing paper.
(7) 199? – Printed matter that works.
(8) 2001 – Lifelike digital proofs — inkjet proofing.

The remaining examples
come from all types of activity: air line, quality assurance, call center, trade fair, etc., and the keywords are teamwork, expertise, efficiency, and production processes.

Everyone is involved in quality assurance (Nos. 10, 11). All bees are working together for a clean and healthy and prosperous colony.

(9) 1997 – We know all about busy people — air line.
(10) 2005 – Success is based on collaboration — quality management.

The buzzword is productivity
(No. 12) and I assume that the bee means expertise in the first place and maybe also productivity (a busy bee).

More expertise can be found in the Wild, the Great Outdoors, and in the fair for factory auto­mation (No. 17). The previous year bees were also shown, but then it was to emphasize inno­vation (No. 18). In this specific case the bees are not an example to follow like in all the other advertisements. They represent the old fashioned way of doing which urgently needs some new ideas.

The Canton Import & Export Fair, rather than innovation or expertise, boasts the boundless opportunities (No. 19), which are illustrated with flowers as far as the eye can see. Boundless opportunities, a feast for the bee, indeed. Some years earlier a Rabbit was used and surrounded by carrots for the opportunities (see Rabbit & Hare) and any species surrounded by its food could perform equally well.

(11) ???? – Everyone is involved in quality — quality management.
(12) 1994 – The buzzword is productivity — call center systems.
(13) 2000 – Customer Relationship Management — software

(14) 1998 – Scout bees search for pollen — investment company
(15) 2012 – The bee-line for real estate expertise — job advertisement.

The shortest way
to gain real estate expertise? A bee-line ! Even for an advert in a language without an equivalent word. The play of words must have been irresistible. Therefore the bees and the combs. No further mention of either in the text. Only an English title above a Dutch body.

“Scouting bees search
the area for pollen” (No. 14) and we have already explored the Europe of your investments. Bees scout for food, but so do all species.

The Potassium supplement
(No. 13) comes with page filling flower with bee, but neither are mentioned in the text. I can't think why they were chosen.

(16) 1993 – Cell recharging —
Potassium supplement.
(17) 2003 – You'll find experts in nature and in Hannover— factory automation.

(18) 2002 – Discover innovative production processes — trade fair.
(19) 2011 – More than you expect — trade fair

(20) 2014 – A flower bulb can save bees' lives — awareness campaign.
(21) 200? – We ask nature for a little help — biofuel.

Our last advertisements
are examples where the bee does not represent an idea, or effi­ciency, or good communication, but only stands for itself. Bees need flowers in order to survive (No. 20). People will learn this during the awareness campaign when they go to the municipality and get some flower bulbs for the garden.

To improve the fuel of the future, we ask nature to lend us a hand … says the advert for biofuel (No. 21). We have seen the same company in Rabits & Hares where they are telling us how carefully their oil refineries combine leading edge technology with respect for the environment. The rabbit there stood for the environment under pressure from humun activities. Bees are needed for the pollination of rapeseed, the raw material for biofuel. Therefore the bee stands for itself and its way of living.

Chapters about Hymenoptera

 The importance of this behaviour in foraging success remains unclear and there is discussion about what information is used and what strategy is followed by the onlookers.
    See f.e.
  • C. Grüter, M. Sol Balbuena & W. Farina — 2008 — Informational conflicts created by the waggle dance. Proc Biol Sci. 275(1640): 1321–1327
  • R. l'Anson Price, N. Dulex, N. Vial, C. Vincent, C. Grüter — 2019 — Honeybees forage more successfully without the "dance language" in challenging environments. Sci Adv. 5(2)

 The advertisement is in English. If you cannot follow the line of thinking it cannot be due to a flawed translation.

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