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Sauce hollandaise24/11/2006 - par Mark Tungate
Last week I was in Amsterdam visiting a couple of extraordinary ad agencies : 180 and StrawberryFrog. I was also in the grip of a dreadful cold, so I had to interview cool creative directors with snot pouring from my nose. Nice. But at least I got what I came for, which was to find out why Amsterdam has become such a creative hub.
The basic reasons are quite banal : because of its low business taxes, companies like Adidas and Nike (whose account is handled by Wieden&Kennedy, another local hot shop) chose Amsterdam as a base rather than London or Paris. There are also communication advantages : everyone speaks English, and Amsterdam is about two hours away from everywhere else in Europe.
But apart from that, Amsterdam is inspiring. Mark Chalmers, the English creative at StrawberryFrog told me : « London is a microcosm, and British ads tend to refer to British culture. Moving out of that environment forces you to take a new approach. You become aware that there's a life outside Soho. » Richard Bullock, joint executive creative director of 180, had a similar view. « London can end up seeming like one big agency... It's not easy making international campaigns, because you can't make jokes about local culture. You have to touch on basic human truths. »
The amusing thing is that 180 is located just up the road from StrawberryFrog, which is based right next door to Wieden&Kennedy. Amsterdam has become one big agency too : possibly the coolest in the world.