Amsterdam: A city built for purpose

The Drum 02 Dec 2019 10:21
By Hazel Livingstone-02 December 2019 10:21am

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

The Brave New Now on why Amsterdam’s creative community is thriving and why brands are relocating to the city.

Here’s a little-known fact. The three core values of Amsterdam are the spirit of commerce, creativity and innovation. These have been the city’s strengths for centuries and they’re continuing to fuel growth today, with international brands relocating to this accessible and welcoming global epicentre of fresh thinking. The figures don’t lie: the latest statistics show that 143 new international companies opened offices in Amsterdam last year. Brexit isn’t exactly an obstacle to that trend.

I know, from personal experience. I came here for an interview and never went home. That was 10 years ago and now, five years after setting up an agency here, the unique benefits of this city have never been clearer.

First, there’s the work/life balance. That may sound at odds with the ‘always on’ culture of the industry, but as Jack said, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. The best thinking does not come from working into the wee small hours. Working flexibly and working smart is celebrated in Amsterdam because it ensures everyone has a rewarding home life and can spend personal time with friends and family. Fresh, happy minds breed brilliant creative thinking.

This leads to the third great advantage of doing creative business in Amsterdam: access to the best pool of talent imaginable. The city has one of the highest proportions of freelancers to employed workers in the world. In an increasingly project-based client/agency method of remuneration, the ability to bring in and build the best team of expert talent tailored specifically for the job at hand not only benefits the end result, it ensures highly competitive cost-efficiencies. The relative cost to brands working with Amsterdam-based creative partners versus those in London or New York is tangible. In an industry where ROI and the bottom-line has never been under more scrutiny, Amsterdam is winning.

Take online payment infrastructures for the likes of Netflix, Spotify and a host of other digital powerbrands: you’ll find they originated here (with Adyen). Many digital firsts across various sectors and industries were created by Amsterdam-based minds. As an agency challenged regularly with the need to deliver new, better ways to connect with audiences bombarded with a daily digital maelstrom, we’ve been able to rise to the occasion. Just for starters, check out ‘Your Future Tesla’– breaking down the barriers for would-be Tesla owners via compelling personalised video, which is driving high lead-generation.

Toleration of views different than your own is vital for the development of wholly original ideas: fear only produces inertia, not innovation. That’s why the city’s inherent diversity is the fifth reason the Amsterdam creative scene is thriving. Anything goes. Literally anything.

The next decade promises even greater challenges as brands seek to carve out unique spaces in a dynamic, ever-shifting and swelling sea of new digital formats. They require agile teams capable of delivering against those challenges, whilst ensuring efficiencies and 'work smart' collaborative approaches.

Hazel Livingstone, CEO at The Brave New Now.

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