What a brilliant idea of the Amsterdam Art Weekend to claim the ‘Capital A’. Maybe it would have been even better to claim ‘The capital of Advertising’. Um, sorry, we mean ‘of Art’, of course…
This is how the city of Amsterdam shows its inhabitants how abandoned bicycles form an obstacle in the city. Apparently there are tens of thousands of these bicycles in Amsterdam. By building this maze of 200 bicycles, the Amsterdammers are asked to get rid of their bikes when not used anymore. Of course this won’t help a bit, since abandoned bicycles are…um…abandoned. But it does make a nice photo opportunity for the passers by.
This poster – with a young Picasso in 1906 – is spread throughout Amsterdam to advertise the new Van Gogh exhibition ‘Picasso in Paris, 1900-1907’ – a joint exhibition with the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Amsterdam based Koeweiden Postma designed the visual identity of the exhibition. The design agency even created a customized font – we assume that’s why so much weight was given to the text in the poster compared to Picasso’s self portrait. According to Koeweiden Postma the font refers to Picasso’s inspiration by African masks, art nouveau/jugendstil, and the colours of the different periods in Picasso’s life. This sounds more like not being able to make a choice than creating a strong visual identity. And though the lay-out of the poster makes us a little dizzy, we’ll be definitely visiting the Van Gogh Museum soon.
‘Redesign the world’ was the theme of this year’s PICNIC. And to support this theme Mitchell Joachim from Terreform ONE quoted John F. Kennedy; “if man can create problems, man can solve them”. As always the international conference that combines innovation, cross media, design, and sustainability offered an inspiring three days of fresh ideas. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see all the talks, but we’ve made a small selection of the ones that we found the most insightful for advertising folk.
A few weeks ago Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool criticized Amsterdam’s city marketing, because it would lack creativity. Quite ironic when ‘creativity’ is supposed to be one of Amsterdam’s USP’s. The only thing that connects the city’s scattered marketing activities is the brand ‘I Amsterdam’. And though these two words are quite visible throughout the city, no one really knows what it means. Responsible for building this brand – or not building it, if you will – is Amsterdam Partners, an ‘agency’ solely responsible for the exploitation of I Amsterdam. One of the most recent I Amsterdam ads, is this film through the eyes of a tourist. It asks tourists to explain (in video or writing) how they would spend €1000. The best submission wins *tada!* €1000. Indeed, not what we’d call creative advertising. We do think however that the catchy film makes Amsterdam look sexy and exciting – though we wondered why the Red Light District is more representative than a coffeeshop, another very important USP. The ‘commercial’ was created by Big Shots, an online video production agency that put itself more or less on the map with their wonderful anti-O’Reilly (Fox News) video ‘The truth about Amsterdam’ – the best piece of city marketing we’ve ever seen.
Since the summer seems to have disappeared definitely, let us look forward to the most interesting conference on cross media and innovation of the year; PICNIC – held from 22 till 24 September in Amsterdam. Today we’re a bit busy, so we’ve taken the liberty to copy the ‘about’ section of PICNIC’s website: “In 2006, Bas Verhart (founder of Media Republic) joined forces with Marleen Stikker (founder and CEO of Waag Society) to develop a new platform for creativity and innovation in Amsterdam. They wanted to bring together the world’s top creative and business professionals to develop new partnerships and opportunities. Supported by their network of friends, collaborators and admirers, including former Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, PICNIC was born”. We’ve visited PICNIC every year so far, since it has never failed to inspire us. You could say that at PICNIC you see the future. The artwork was created by Marcel Kampman. See all his designs here.
A new Amsterdam city guide, called Zero20 – the Amsterdam area code – was launched this week. The online platform helps tourists and expats to spend their spare time by showing what’s on in Music, Film, Art, Food and Shop(ping). The navigation works fairly intuitive through a calendar that primarily shows big pictures of the events. It was conceived by Italian-born Stefano Xotta and created by Grey Amsterdam. Though there are already quite a few similar initiatives, this one might be more successful due to its catchy look.
While the Pletterpet has not been the most successful premium Heineken ever launched – at the supermarket you’ll still find big piles of Pletterpet boxes – Heineken yesterday made a big come back during the national team’s canal parade. Heineken’s agency TBWA\Neboko – also responsible for the Pletterpet – came up with the idea to spoof the well known Heineken pay-off Biertje? (Beer?) – not in use anymore, for that matter. By leaving the ‘i’ out, it spells ‘Bertje!’, referring to the Dutch football coach Bert van Marwijk. During the last days of the tournament the Amsterdam brewer spread Bertje! t-shirts and flags through supermarket Albert Heijn and its own bars. By the time the Dutch team was hounoured with a canal parade – as if they had become world champion – it was impossible to miss ‘Bertje!’ Picture: the Heineken Brewery Museum; fan waiting for the Canal Parade; newspaper ad; and Dutch top scorer Sneijder holding a Bertje! flag. Though we are very impressed by the amount of (free) publicity this must have generated, we still preferred to look at the Bavaria Dutch dress girls.
Everybody that lives in Amsterdam recognizes the human sized letters that spell ‘I Amsterdam’. So when the A and the M disappeared this week, people noticed that something was missing. Amsterdam Partners (AP) – the agency that exploits the city slogan – reported the letters as stolen. AP even stated they encountered the missing letters on Marktplaats (the Dutch eBay). But it was all a hoax. The letters were replaced by a (big) piece of origami. With this guerrilla action Sony tried to get attention for their new game ‘Heavy Rain’ – on sale as from yesterday. In this game there’s a character called the Origami Killer – hence the origami. The person selling the letters on Marktplaats was called Erik Gilliroam, an anagram for Origami Killer. Do they really expect gamers to buy this game after having seen such an incredibly far fetched example of bad guerrilla advertising?!
We were invited by the VEA (Association of Ad Agencies) to attend the second edition of Creative Lounge on Monday in Pakhuis de Zwijger. The night was hosted by Jelani Isaacs (Brenninkmeijer and Isaacs) and Claire Finn (U-Turn). Guests of the evening were Matthew Atkatz (Riot, digital arm 180), Romke Oortwijn (N=5), Raphael Mazoyer (Asics) and – Skyping in from London – Florian Schmitt (Hi-Res). And this night’s topic was the controversy between digital agencies and non-digital agencies; is digital part of the idea or is digital the idea itself? A promising question, though it did take a while before the discussion stopped to bounce all over the place. We do understand why it did though; there’s no unambiguous answer to the question what the exact role of digital is in advertising. Some big ideas can only exist thanks to the technology behind it, while some ideas merely use existing digital tools to execute it. More…