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Amsterdam – more than a place, an idea

Amsterdam Worldwide


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October 1, 2015 | 6 min read

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At Amsterdam Worldwide we haven’t been shy about pointing out the many advantages to living and working in Amsterdam. We even, ahem, borrowed the name. Multicultural, tolerant, fiscally sane, convenient, commercial, digitally hyper-connected, etc… These are all fine things indeed. How nice. How boring. How 2005.

The most important part of Amsterdam’s story is the least tangible. The idea itself of ‘Amsterdam’. This is simply the proposition that we have it within ourselves to create our own reality. What a liberating thought that was 500 years ago. And today.

By rights, this place should not exist, and even once built should never have been as important as it once was – and still is. Amsterdam was dreamt up, and it was built. It has no hinterland, and not much in the way of natural resources. It is literally under water. The impending floods concentrate the mind wonderfully. Better have a good idea then.

Why does this matter to international brands today?

In this digital world the idea wins. Reports of the death of the ‘big idea’ are greatly exaggerated. In a world where the cost of distributing an idea has fallen to almost zero, a great idea truly knows no borders. Every brand with a website is global, whether they intend to be or not. Every brand with a website or an app and an idea is a global force.

In the old days (i.e. before Facebook), the reality was that a brand idea would often need to be reinvented at great expense multiple times over, depending on the geographic reach of said brand. The complexity, cost, and time involved in the creative decision-making process was inversely related to the quality of the eventual output. It often yielded crap – or worse, the unnoticed. You, international brand manager, don’t have time for this anymore. Nor money. In the time you took to organise your international conference to sell in your idea – to your distribution channel, mind you, not to actual consumers – you got Uber-ed.

‘To Uber’ – verb meaning to utterly destroy the established order in a heartbeat. Ok, three or four years, but a relative heartbeat in business cycle terms. Forget the taxi industry, Uber is now more valuable than General Motors. Airbnb became the most valuable hotel company in about a minute. Amazon is the most valuable retailer without a single store.

So hurry up. The good news is, this is the best time to be in the brand story business. Break the rules inside your company if you have to. We’re breaking the rules of our creative industry: beyond our traditional strategic and creative agency role, we’re now also producing work on behalf of our clients in-house, because we understand the need for speed when getting an idea from your imagination to everyone else’s. You need to be able to move faster, deliver high quality, and all at a reasonable cost – critical when you need to tell your story well, but can’t afford a Super Bowl commercial every day.

Interesting and compelling ideas are the oxygen of the internet. People are desperate for quality content. They actively seek it out. Sometimes that content can be an ad, like in recent years when millions of Russians watched a 20-minute online film we created for Pernod Ricard’s Ararat brandy. We earned the attention and respect of Russian consumers, so they watched all the way through the credits and told their friends. Millions more Chinese, Indonesians, and Americans consumed our branded documentaries for Intel, and contributed their own work to the brand platform we had created.

We’re now busy in the USA with new hardcore retail work that sells for brands like Sony, Acer, and Warsteiner Beer, with almost no classic media involved. Content that’s worth watching, worth talking about. Using traditional advertising craftsmanship with a sharp understanding of the digital context in which that content gets consumed – or ignored.

We are just at the beginning. What has not changed is the craftsmanship required to tell a good story. We take your idea and encourage you to bring that idea out in new ways, take action and amplify that action through storytelling… rinse and repeat on a global scale. And we bring the story (thank you mobile devices) much closer to the transaction. Next idea, please.

We have the temerity, or maybe that Amsterdam attitude, to tell stories for brands around the world. From Silicon Valley to Germany to China, clients call us to drive growth and create opportunity where others see none.

The recent changes in the world of brands and creativity demand a different model. Our international team has found inspiration for our model in our adopted city. Amsterdam is an act of the imagination – one that also travels, so we have hubs in Berlin and Los Angeles.

There has never been a better time for your brand to create its own reality. The world could use a little more Amsterdam.

Brian Elliott, CEO & Founder, Amsterdam Worldwide

Tel: +31 205 300 400



Twitter: @amsterdamww


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