Amsterdam Ad Blog
Amsterdam Ad Blog

Amsterdam for dummies

April 2, 2014
Robert van der Lans

Your portfolio is f*cking amazing!

A few weeks ago my mom started cleaning up boxes and bags stuffed with bits and pieces from my life in college. When I started sorting them out I ran into a pile of folders filled with research about the ad agencies and creative directors that appealed to me back then. Like a true detective I mapped out all the inspiring agencies; who was working where and who made that stunning new ad I loved so much. I kept track of the folders for years during college. All because I was keen on getting a spot next to a creative director who could teach me all the ins and outs about getting the best creative work out of any brief. More…

March 27, 2014
Axel van Weel

Euro sign of the times

I bought a Bitcoin. In fact, I bought two. For those of you having lived on the moon for the last couple of months: Bitcoin is a digital currency that isn’t regulated by any government, pretty much untraceable and therefore used primarily by bad people for buying guns, drugs and other shady merchandise. Have I descended into a crooked life of corruption, without morals or principles? Yes, but that was when I landed my first advertising job back in 2000. But it’s not the reason why I have bought Bitcoins last month. They also happen to be a very lucrative commodity. More…

March 25, 2014
Wouter Boon

Unlike Facebook

As editor-in-chief of Amsterdam Ad Blog I was recently wondering why the traffic on our website has slightly decreased compared to half a year ago. My first thought; our content is deteriorating. My second thought; there’s an increasing amount of competitive titles sharing interesting content. Both possible. But this couldn’t (just) be the case my intuition told me. After all, the amount of contributors and content on this platform is constantly growing, just as the amount of Facebook and Twitter followers. You would guess that a steady growth of content and ‘social friends’ can only convert into a growth of website traffic. Not so. More…

March 13, 2014
Astrid Groenewegen

The one minute remedy to boredom

I get bored. I get bored very easily. And I get distracted. I get distracted even more easily. In typing this one sentence only, I got up and got something to snack and browsed to Soundcloud to put on some Andreas Henneberg. And I wandered off some more. Thinking I should actually better eat something more healthy, thinking I should put some of the Henneberg/The Glitz mixes on my iPhone, thinking I should really do some running while listening to those mixes. But luckily I am not alone. There is a name for what I am. I am a consumer. A consumer of a lot of things. That’s is why I want to hold a plea for the Perfect Pitch as the one and only remedy to reach people like me and make us notice you and your brand. More…

February 26, 2014
Robert van der Lans

Let’s turn orange into Titanium

Yes, our king cheered like a 14-year-old skate hooligan. Our Olympic outfits looked like a fashion academy graduation project that went terribly wrong. And yeah, some of our men speed skaters have hair that makes them look like Slipknot fans that got stuck in puberty – they actually believe it made them more aerodynamic.

But I have to say the Dutch team rocked at the Sochi games. They were on fire. It’s almost like they were on some new kind of dope and it is called cheese. With only 41 participants they have managed to take in the fifth place in de overall medal race. An achievement noticed around the world. And of course there are always yellow bellies that ridicule speed skating in general, but it’s Olympic and that’s what counts. More…

February 20, 2014
Joris Kang'eri

Big ideas are dead… Long live BIG ideas

Clients (and ad people of a certain generation) love bandying around the phrase ‘big idea’. Often, it’s a way to not commit to a proposal that, ironically, might actually be amazing: “it’s the right insight…but I can’t see the big idea.”

Typically it’ll mean that you tick all the boxes on the media list from the media agency. TVC? Check. Print ads that look like the TVC? Check. A digital execution of some sort (“Can we make sure the TVC is in there?”). Check. In-store, OOH and banners that look like the previous three? Check. See? 500 different format executions. Big idea. Done. More…

February 18, 2014
Joanna Krolikowska

Learn to lose

For the last two weeks we have been hearing repeatedly the famous message from the Olympic charter:

The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play

Google, as well as many other sources were using it to ignite the spirit of equality, human rights and uniting power of sport events. I could not agree more with the premise of this statement watching my countrymen and women in their struggle to perform at their best’s.  More…

February 3, 2014
Joris Dommels

The silence of the phones

And then, with a deafening silence, the phone stops ringing. It happens to every freelancer. One minute you’re working your ass off, the next minute the phone stops ringing and you find yourself without work. Nothing. Niente. Nada. Zip, zilch, zero.

To most people with steady employment, an empty agenda sounds like heaven. Depending on your life phase you can either spend more time with your kids and actually get to know them by name, or have mescaline infused sweat hut sessions with fellow psychonauts on an otherwise boring Wednesday night. Like I said: heaven. But not for the freelancer. Oh no. More…

January 27, 2014
Maarten Boer

Why I Love Advertising

I Hate Advertising

So many brands interfering with the things I love to do. I love music, and I detest anything interrupting it. Especially commercials. Have you ever really listened to a radio commercial? Ever noticed how scary the tone of voice is? Wow. It’s either a used car salesman, a prostitute or a psychopath shouting in your ear. Seriously, if a stranger came up to you and started talking like a radio ad, you would either panic and run, or tase him and put him in a straightjacket. Some actually yell and scream at you. It’s ridiculous. More…

January 16, 2014
Marleen Wiedhaup

Amsterdam for dummies

Recently I received a PM on Facebook from this American trooper who was planning on moving to Amsterdam to pursue his dream-career in advertising here. Realizing that all Dutch sites on the Dutch are in Dutch, and the English ones are in Comic Sans, I decided to help the dude out. And by sharing the resulting dialogue I intent to support all disoriented expats as well as other minorities.

Dear Marleen,
I just finished reading your column on AAB and because your profile picture makes you look very willingly to please, I thought I’d email you.
Here’s the thing;
In 3 weeks from now I will be moving to Amsterdam to work at [xxxxxxxx] as a copywriter for at least a year. More…

January 6, 2014
Niels Vrijhoeven

Call Center Prank

Readers of my Amsterdam Ad Blog columns know that I am a strong advocate of what has become known in our industry as humanizing brands: the process of reversing the lack of trust in brands, by getting rid of brand mythology and showing the outside world what really goes down behind the shiny logo and dito TV commercials instead. Logically, the fact that the people of Amsterdam agency Pool Worldwide persuaded Dutch insurance company Centraal Beheer into a humanizing brand project filled me with joy. Hats off to both! More…

December 12, 2013
Astrid Groenewegen

Dicks will come

‘Dicks will come’ is a wisdom I want to give to you for a rock start in 2014. OK, but what the hell does it mean? Will there be an invasion of persons called Dick? To be honest, this question is build in to give the prude at heart some hope my title is actually decent. But no, I am sorry I have to disappoint you. No shred of decency here. I am actually talking about proper dicks – the physical kind. But stick with me, because it is important for making great creative work to get to the bottom of this wisdom. And it is not just about me trying to be a pervert or turn you into one. More…

December 4, 2013
Tim Polder

The thing called feedback

The experiences of a Hyper Island student

It can make you better, defuse marital problems, build brilliant teams, prevent wars, and doesn’t cost a penny. It’s feedback. And it’s brilliant. It’s also the most under-appreciated aspect of advertising. Probably because it’s the most abused thing in advertising. Well, lagging right behind interns. The issues with feedback are, that it’s either not given, badly given or too late. And too late usually comes with lawsuits-in-the-making and might possibly lack a certain nuance. More…

November 27, 2013
Joanna Krolikowska

What do Creatives want?

Last month Aquent published a report on what motivates creative professionals. Two main factors stood out – financial reward and content. The first is not a surprise, you need to pay the rent and pay for your Friday drinks. Although it might surprise you that it was the content that was more often placed before the money. So what does the ‘content’ mean for the creative professional? In the report as well as my own experience as a coach, it is mainly the job itself, with clearly defined responsibilities, interesting products to work on and open-minded management. But the common attribute for content is of course creativity. More…

November 25, 2013
Floris Kingma

We gotta fight

“We wanna be free
We wanna be free do what we wanna do
We want to get loaded
And have a good time!”
(Peter Fonda in The Wild Angels but actually made famous by Primal Scream’s song Loaded)

Just recently I came across a small 15min documentary about creative freedom in Adland, called Wonderland. Basically it’s shows creatives and directors who tell how much better their work could be if they just would get space to do what they want to do. On the side they also point out the negative correlation between the amount of money involved and the amount of creative freedom. More…

November 21, 2013
Joris Kang'eri

Buzzword Bingo

Buzzwords get a bit of a bad rap. As if they’re solely responsible for the lack of creative output we see all around us. But maybe it’s because we advertising folk aren’t using them properly, or enough. People often talk about how clients and agencies should work together more closely. Apparently one of the great barriers to this ideal situation is that they ‘don’t speak the same language’. But maybe it’s just that we don’t speak a common language to equal standards. More…

November 14, 2013
Wouter Boon

Philips, Innovation and Me

Since yesterday Dutch electronics company Philips has a new logo. It is a redesign of the shield that was introduced in 1938 – in the past decade or so the company only used the word ‘Philips’ without any visual decoration. When the shield was conceived it was to communicate Philips’ innovative core business; the stars stood for Philips’ lighting – its very first product group – the waves for radio transmissions – “the first major communication platform” – and the circle for the world and the people who’s lives Philips touched. That’s a pretty good story to incorporate in your logo, so I fully understand that they’ve taken the dust off the old shield and redesigned it into a more modern logo. Quite handsomely done, I have to say. More…

November 7, 2013
The Stone Twins

Bye, bye, Zwarte Piet

The issue of whether Zwarte Piet is a racist stereotype or a harmless folklore character has dominated the national (and international) press for weeks, so why not a debate on an advertising blog? After all, there is a huge responsibility within the advertising and design sectors in perpetuating the image and narrative of ʻBlack Peteʼ, the subservient companion of Sinterklaas (or Saint Nicolaas).

The stylized depictions of Piet – with blackface, black curly hair and large red lips – on confectionary, toys and store-displays recall the ʻblackfaceʼ mascots that are long banned in other Western countries. The similarities to the golliwog, Little Black Sambo, the Black and White Minstrels and all the other racist caricatures of the high imperial age are undeniable. So, isnʼt it time that Zwarte Piet joins them in the dustbin of history? More…

October 23, 2013
Maarten Boer

Coca-Cola is gay

Some decisions are hard. Others are not. Here’s a no brainer:

Should you do what you promise?
(See, that was easy.)

Still, the second biggest brand in the world finds it very hard to decide. The 2014 Olympic Games (held in Sochi, Russia) are heavily sponsored by Coca-Cola. In fact, Coca-Cola has been the biggest sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1928. They have been supporting the noble principles of ‘Olympism’ for almost a century. And right now, the head honcho’s at Coca-Cola are deliberating on whether or not they should speak out against Russia’s new anti-gay laws. More…

October 14, 2013
Niels Vrijhoeven

Humanizing Brands

Trust in brands is declining. This may not come as a surprise. Nevertheless, I was still a little overwhelmed by the results Google presented to me when I entered the key words ‘brand’ and ‘trust’. A small outtake:

  • According to Y&R’s Brand Asset Valuator, the number of brands that consumers confirm they trust halved between 2001 and 2010.
  • Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey states that 92% of consumers around the world trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising; an increase of 18% since 2007.
  • Forrester research shows that only 10% of European consumers trust post by brands on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Etcetera…

All Brand Trust / Value / Equity / You name it Surveys I – superficially – studied, point into one direction: people trust other people over brands. In fact, apparently even total strangers are perceived as trustworthier than known brands! More…