Amsterdam At the Head of The Creative Class

Ad Age is running an interesting feature on Amsterdam and how the Dutch city actively courts creative companies from overseas.

Taxi Chairman Paul Lavoie said, “They had a day for us where we met with lawyers, accountants, and they explained some of the fiscal advantages of moving our business to Amsterdam.” From there, Mr. Lavoie and Taxi CEO Rob Guenette were whisked on a tour of established agencies such as Wieden & Kennedy, 180 and Amsterdam Worldwide (formerly known as Strawberry Frog), which, despite being the competition, readily answered Taxi’s questions. Their visit was capped with a party. “I thought it would be 10 people at the most, but it was 85 to 100” Mr. Lavoie said. Among them was Job Cohen, the mayor of Amsterdam, who welcomed the duo and said he’d really like to see Taxi plant roots in the city.
Beyond the tours like the one Taxi experienced, the city is running a marketing campaign dubbed “I Amsterdam” to promote Amsterdam as a creative hub in international media and running promotional stories and interviews in its own glossy magazine dubbed Proud.

Amsterdam Ad Blog offers a closer look at many of the city’s shops, some with funny names like Selmore, be as you are, They, Dawn, Nothing, Achtung! and Indie. By the way, Nothing’s office is nothing but cardboard.
This story is a great reminder how important the “creative ghetto” is. Every city needs one. Good things don’t happen in isolation, they happen when people are collaborating and cross-pollinating.
On a side note, Portland (where I live) wants badly to be the greenest city on Earth. As the mayor and business leaders tackle this lofty goal, it’ll be important to be like Amsterdam and make the City of Roses incredibly inviting to outside investment.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.