Amsterdam has a long and illustrious history as a hotspot for innovation. The city’s high quality of life and laid-back atmosphere attract talent from across the globe, fueling creativity and ambition. It’s a cosmopolitan village and creative capital where pioneering ideas drive international advertising, fashion, design and gaming concepts.
The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area also offers a world-class infrastructure, both physically and digitally. It’s a popular base for international data centers, high-speed broadband and digital service providers, and it has the superb connectivity of the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) to offer. Thanks to high-speed rail services, the Port of Amsterdam and the award-winning Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – which boasts flights to more than 300 destinations – Amsterdam truly is the gateway to Europe and beyond.
Naturally, a host of internationally renowned brands have capitalized on Amsterdam’s business advantages and located their global or European HQs here. As Victor Knaap, chief executive officer of digital production company MediaMonks, explains: “Since the mid-1990s, we have seen an influx of global brands. The first was Nike, which led to a cascade of others, including Netflix, Adidas and Sonos.”
Creative haven for advertising
With its combination of a laid-back lifestyle, creative ambition and will to innovate, Amsterdam is a haven for creatives; consequently, several internationally renowned agencies have set up shop here. Amsterdam is home to some of the world’s leading advertising companies, including 180, Wieden+Kennedy, Anomaly and 72andSunny. Dutch advertising agencies regularly win the main awards at international ceremonies each year, further highlighting the city’s creative acumen.
”Amsterdam is having a creative renaissance, and the work that is coming from a handful of small shops is truly world-class,” says Martin Peters Ginsborg, executive creative director of local firm Anomaly. “What’s impressive is the flexibility and diversity of scale. Amsterdam produces everything from global campaigns for iconic mega brands to smaller projects for local startups.”
Denim capital of the world
The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is a true fashion hub that’s home to more than 100 fashion houses. Hip new brands and iconic designers have all flocked to the area to benefit from the advantages of doing business here. Many fashion labels have chosen Amsterdam as the location of their headquarters: Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein relocated their head offices from New York to Amsterdam, and Chanel followed suit, relocating its international headquarters to the city in 2015.
The city prides itself on being the denim capital of the world. Amsterdam’s denim industry is thriving: the city has the highest concentration of denim brands in the world. A conservative estimate by the municipal research bureau O+S puts the annual turnover of the Amsterdam denim industry at about €500m.
Amsterdam is the perfect ecosystem for the design industry. While the Dutch capital competes with major cities such as London, New York and Los Angeles, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is undoubtedly a very different environment, helping to set it apart and attract some of the world’s top creative talents in design. With companies such as MediaMonks, BSUR, UN Studio and Droog Design, Amsterdam’s design industry is leading the charge in closing the gap between traditional branding and technology.
Leading in gaming and VR
Amsterdam is a hotspot for companies active in the global games industry, thanks to an outstanding digital infrastructure, healthy startup and tech scenes, and an abundance of international talent. Some of the world’s best-known game studios and companies – including Guerrilla Games , EA, Perfect World, Activision Blizzard and Chartboost – are based in Amsterdam.
The city is increasingly becoming a leader in virtual-reality technology, too. Along with a range of academies and startup accelerators – including Force Field VR School and VRBase – the city recently welcomed Jaunt, an award-winning developer of VR hardware and software. According to Arthur van Hoff, Jaunt’s founder and CTO: “As a truly international city, Amsterdam is a hotbed for engineers and developers known for pushing the boundaries of technology.”
By the numbers
The Dutch advertising and market-research industries are worth €8bn.
Amsterdam employs 196,000 people in ‘creative and cultural industries’.
It is the fourth-largest creative employer in Europe, by number of staff, behind the much bigger cities of London, Paris and Milan.
The Amsterdam ad industry employs 20,000 people. London’s employs 25,000.
Ron Boyle, Senior Manager Creative, Fashion & USA
Marike Nadorp, Senior Manager Foreign Investments North America/EMEA