This is the story of one of the most successful campaigns in the history of advertising.
In August 1997 Jobs, who had cofounded Apple Computer in his garage 20 years earlier, returned to the company to become its interim chief executive officer. At that time Apple was in the midst of a crisis. Its share of the computer market had plummeted from a peak of 14 percent in 1993 to below 3 percent four years later. ‘‘The company was in a death spiral…’’ its chief financial officer, Fred Anderson, told Newsweek in 1998. Jobs set out to address the problems. He believed that Apple’s difficulties stemmed from the company’s incoherent agenda, which consisted of efforts to move various products without a clearly defined purpose or method. Jobs attempted to redefine the company’s strategy by concentrating on Apple’s key markets: design and publishing, education, and consumers who purchased personal computers for use in the home. He also cut Apple’s product line from 14 to 4. Jobs took charge of Apple’s image-making process as well. When he arrived back at the company, Apple was running more than 25 different advertising campaigns. The company’s domestic and international sales offices advertised independently from, and were often not coordinated with, the campaigns conducted from Apple’s headquarters in California.
Apple’s advertising agency during this period, BBDO, had opted to focus its advertisements on specific Apple products and the technological features of Apple computers. These efforts did nothing to allay consumers’ fears that Apple’s demise was imminent. ‘‘The talk of Apple going under was the worst thing for the company…’’ said Jessica Schulman, the TBWA\Chiat\Day art director for the ‘‘Think Different’’ campaign. ‘‘People won’t buy computer equipment that they think won’t be around in the next year.’’
Jobs invited three ad agency reps to present new ideas. Lee Clow, now the creative director for Chiat/Day, was one of them. On August 3, 1997, he presented a new slogan and aesthetic for Apple’s ads: Think Different (perhaps a reference to IBM’s famous “THINK” slogan) and montages of artists and creative professionals using the Mac. In an interview with Electric Escape, Clow said that he wanted to feature filmmakers at Dreamworks SKG working on their Macs. Jobs was enamored with the concept, though now using anonymous figures. And instead of Dreamworks filmmakers, he wanted to use celebrities and thinkers. Jobs had long been a fan of black and white portraits and prints. NeXT’s offices were decorated (expensively) with poster-sized prints from Ansel Adams, and Jobs’ manse in Los Gatos was decorated with black and white portraits of his heroes, including Albert Einstein. He began brainstorming on the spot. Chiat/Day was reinstated as the chief advertising agency, and Lee Clow became a regular presence on the Apple Campus. Although the ad was produced entirely by Chiat/Day staff (on Macs, of course), Jobs (sometimes with marketing staffers) reviewed revisions at every step of the process. He used a satellite uplink between City Center 3 and Chiat/Day’s Venice offices to review the clips in full video instead of relying on the mail or compressed files.
Chiat/Day used a totally computer based creative environment. Jobs gave the group 17 days after approval to complete the entire campaign. That included the television commercial and billboards for major markets such as Los Angeles and New York. An ordinary campaign for a more obscure client (or even Apple under Amelio) would have taken much longer just to get rights to the images. Jobs was particularly useful when Clow and his team needed to get usage rights from celebrities including Joan Baez (Jobs’ ex-girlfriend) and Yoko Ono (once a neighbor near Central Park when Jobs lived in the San Remo and Yoko in the Dakota). If Clow had approached these people’s publicists, he would be another adman. When Jobs called, he was a friend and a cult-figure in computer history.
The television commercial was produced using an Avid 4000 system on a Macintosh with Adobe AfterEffects. Jennifer Gulab, who worked on the television commercial, worked very closely with Jobs via satellite link. The two were in contact daily, working out which images would be used (a choice largely based on the availability of images and permissions), the music, and the narration, which was done by Richard Dreyfus. Dreyfus read a free-verse poem, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”, written by a Chiat/Day copywriter, Craig Tanimoto. This was used extensively throughout the entire campaign. Rumours say that Steve Jobs wrote the original text, for this spot it’s been changed a little.
The commercial consisted of the blackand-white images of the 12 visionary thinkers including (in order) Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr.,Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), R. Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso and the reading of a manifesto read by actor Dreyfuss. ‘‘Here’s to the crazy ones,’’ began the voice-over. ‘‘The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.’’ The commercial ends with an image of a young girl, Shaan Sahota, opening her closed eyes, as if to see the possibilities before her.
‘‘Think Different” celebrates the soul of the Apple brand—that creative people with passion can change the world for the better,’’ Jobs told the Wall Street Journal Europe in April 1998. Apple wanted to kick off the campaign in dramatic fashion and decided that the first advertisement should run on television during the September 28, 1997, network television premiere of A Toy Story on ABC. Although difficulties in obtaining the rights to use and publish the photographs of the subjects of the campaign nearly caused Apple to miss its target, the 60-second spot aired as planned.
A shorter version was also produced. It used many of the people above, but closed with Jerry Seinfeld, instead of the young girl. This commercial aired only once, during the series finale of Seinfeld.
The first rule of the campaign was that there would be no products in the ads. Clow and the rest of the creative team were very concerned with appearing to exploit the artists who’s images they used. Instead of being paid, all of the participants (or their estates) were given money and computer equipment to be donated to the charities or non-profits of their choice.
To reinforce the message of the television commercials, Apple conducted a brief second phase of the campaign and ran print ads in major newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, that consisted of the text of the manifesto and some of the images from the television campaign.
The choice of the tagline ‘‘Think Different’’ rather than ‘‘Think Differently’’ was deliberate. Even though ‘‘Think Different’’ drew public flak for not being grammatically correct, Apple settled on the line because it ‘‘conveyed a total change in the whole body of what you think about,’’ said Jessica Schulman, art director at TBWA\Chiat\Day. ‘‘Instead of thinking in your everyday way, ‘Think Different.’’’
The print and billboard ads were also unique.
Instead of sticking to Mac and general computing magazines, Apple bought space in popular magazines and fashion magazines. Outside advertisements were practically unheard of in the computer industry, but Chiat/Day rented hundreds of major spaces in New York and Los Angeles – and still does.
Since they had little time, instead of making full scale replicas of posters for bus stations or billboards in major cities, Jessica Schulman just imposed her mockups onto street scenes to give her colleagues an idea how her designs would look. She also collaborated with Jobs, exchanging images on the Internet and making constant revisions.
The print campaign was much more elaborate than the television commercial. Over the years there have been dozens of different personalities on the posters. In the end it has become difficult to say which images are original, and which are fake. After the first campaign, Apple started sending complimentary posters to public schools across the nation featuring different celebrities (including Pablo Picasso, Jane Goodall, and Ron Howard) to hang in classrooms. The complete packets now sell for hundreds of dollars on some websites.
The ‘‘Think Different’’ ads reached out to what Apple termed its ‘‘installed base,’’ those consumers who had purchased Apple computer equipment in the past.
Apple consistently performed well in three core markets: designers and desktop publishers, educators and students, and home users. It was these groups that were most likely to have bought Apple products and who were keeping the company afloat during its downturn. But with the publicized record of Apple’s financial troubles, many of them were not purchasing new Apple systems for fear that the company would soon fold, leaving them with obsolete machines. ‘‘Our number one priority was to make people realize that we were still here and still fighting for this brand,’’ said Rhona Hamilton, a marketing representative for Apple. In order to appeal to these users, the campaign stressed the creative roots of the Apple brand. The people who were selected to appear in the ‘‘Think Different’’ campaign were bold thinkers, men and women who were not merely great in a certain field but who were also innovative and independent and who had changed the worlds in which they moved. By aligning itself with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan, and Albert Einstein, Apple clearly strove to deliver a message about itself and its products. ‘‘After talking to a lot of consumers and Macintosh enthusiasts, our strategic direction was to stop acting like a computer company and start acting like a company dedicated to creative thinking,’’ said Schulman. The ‘‘Think Different’’ ads stressed that Apple was an innovative company that, with its creative users, could change the world. With these images and themes, Apple hoped to appeal to its core markets, people who as artists, illustrators, designers, and students valued their own creativity and who viewed themselves as being somewhat outside the mainstream. As Brandweek noted, ‘‘‘Think Different’ [was] clear that it [was] not targeting its message to everyone.’’
The ‘‘Think Different’’ campaign elicited an outpouring of opinions. Apple’s headquarters was inundated with letters, faxes, phone calls, and E-mails commenting on the campaign. Some questioned the cast of innovative thinkers included in the ads, others were perplexed by the message, and still others were delighted with Apple’s attempt to pay tribute to its heroes. People formed websites spontaneously, discussing who the individuals were, whether the phrase ‘‘Think Different’’ was grammatically correct, and why Apple’s ad campaign would focus on a group of people who for the most part had never touched a computer. Apple and TBWA\Chiat\Day considered the attention paid to the campaign to be a sign of its impact.
At first the advertising industry praised the ‘‘Think Different’’ campaign. The December 15, 1997, edition of USA Today listed Apple’s ‘‘bolder’’ ads as one of the year’s best campaigns. As reported in the same article, ad agency creative directors ranked the campaign as the second best of the year. On May 18, 1998, Advertising Age also voiced its approval: ‘‘The decision to celebrate the kind of independent thinking that has always typified Mac users seems now to make total sense.’’ In fact, the article stated, ‘‘the shots of heroes, geniuses, wildmen, and iconoclasts assembled here makes a strong emotional statement for Apple’s underdog role.’’
Not everyone loved ‘‘Think Different,’’ however. At first Apple had to contend with criticism for launching a ‘‘campaign of dead people.’’ Apple marketing representative Rhona Hamilton spoke of having to educate consumers about what the campaign was attempting to convey. CMP Techwire reported that the company was drawing bad press for undertaking an expensive marketing effort during a period of financial losses. A USA Today Ad Track survey revealed that consumers preferred Intel’s ‘‘Bunny People’’ spots, which were ranked as the most popular technology-industry commercial of 1997.
The campaign had a positive effect on Apple’s bottom line. In April 1998 Apple reported its second straight profitable quarter after nearly two years and $2 billion in losses. Apple attributed the increasing sales to the ‘‘Think Different’’ campaign. ‘‘It let people know that we’re still around and not going anywhere, so that they can feel good about buying the product,’’ said Hamilton. Apple’s market share rose to 4.1 percent. Unfortunately for Apple, the computer maker’s American market share hovered at about 5 percent for the campaign’s final four years. Advertising critics began discrediting ‘‘Think Different’’ for limiting the Apple brand to the small minority of ‘‘revolutionaries’’ that used computers. ‘‘For years, the Apple brand has been associated with artists, writers and designers,’’ Sandra Garcia wrote in the August 2, 2002, issue of Shoot, an ad-industry magazine. ‘‘The so-called ‘creative types’ who seemingly belonged to this secret society of Mac users while the rest of the working public toiled in a clunky PC world.’’
The ads won a slew of awards and developed a cult-following. In 1998 the television spot won the second annual primetime Emmy Award for best commercial from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). The ad also won a Belding, a Silver Lion and a Gold Lion at Cannes. The long-term campaign won an Effie award for marketing effectiveness. After the first campaign, Apple started sending complimentary posters to public schools across the nation featuring different celebrities (including Pablo Picasso, Jane Goodall, and Ron Howard) to hang in classrooms. The complete packets now sell for hundreds of dollars on some websites.
The campaign ended in 2002.
Advertising Agency: TBWA/CHIAT/DAY, Los Angeles
Chief Creative Officer: Lee Clow
Creative Directors: Ken Segall/Rob Siltanen/Eric Grunbaum/Amy Moorman
Art director: Jennifer Golub/Jessica Schulman/Margaret Midgett,/Ken Younglieb/Bob Kuperman/Yvonne Smith/Susan Alinsangan
Copywriter: Craig Tanimoto
“Imagine if one day capitalism reaches the point, where the big brands starts to sponsor the superheroes. How would this influence their images?”
Being a superhero doesn’t seem to be a lucrative gig, but what if it was? Brands sponsor athletes and celebrities all the time, and with the increasing popularity of superheroes, it’s not all that shocking to think that The Incredible Hulk could one day be rocking a massive Monster logo across his chest.
Italian graphic designer Roberto Vergati Santos imagined many of our favorite superheroes sponsored by our favorite brands. The aptly titled ‘Sponsored Heroes’ series sees characters from both the Marvel and DC Comics universe, and includes all the members of The Avengers, Batman, Wolverine, and many more. Batman can be seen sporting a Nike suit of armor, while Iron Man has been stamped with the golden arches of McDonald’s, and Captain America is seen holding a massive UPS shield. Check out some of the superheroes from the collection below.
IRON MAN – Sponsored by McDonald’s
HULK – Sponsored by Monster Energy
WOLVERINE – Sponsored by Adidas
BATMAN – Sponsored by Nike
CAPTAIN AMERICA – Sponsored by UPS
FLASH – Sponsored by Red Bull
AVENGERS – Sponsored by Coca-Cola
SILVER SURFER- Sponsored by Apple
SUPERMAN – Sponsored by Giorgio Armani
IRON MAN (Sponsored by McDonald’s) vs CAPTAIN AMERICA (Sponsored by Burger King)
Air France Music is known and renowned for its exclusive musical selections. As suitable for an airline company, they are now inviting music lovers to turn their heads towards the sky with the new iPhone application “Music in the Sky”, designed by its agency BETC.
The principle is both poetic and fun: exclusive tunes are hidden in the clouds and all you have to do is catch them by lifting your iPhone, which automatically adds them to your playlist. Anyone with an iPhone can use the app, but travelling passengers will also have the privilege of discovering new tracks depending on where they are in the world: from Paris to Tokyo to Buenos Aires, the sky will hide its own music.
For the first time, thanks to the application, Air France Music fans will be able to listen to the “on air” selections played on board the planes also on terra firma. To celebrate the launch, unreleased tracks from François & the Atlas Mountains, Eugene McGuinness, Villagers, Melody’s Echo Chamber and Tomorrow’s World will be revealed. Finally, throughout the year, Air France Music will organise competitions in the app with the chance to win unreleased tracks, concert tickets or even plane tickets. The Air France Music application can be downloaded free in the Apple Store.
Advertising Agency: BETC
Creative Director: Florence Bellisson
Art Director: Sebastien Partika, Esteban Lebour, Alexandre Saad
Copywriter: Edouard olhagaray, Guillaume Rebbot
Web Designer: Bernard Quarante
I Amsterdam was a photography exhibition devised by tha ad agency Kesselskramer (in conjunction with Amsterdam Partners) as a promotion for the city of Amsterdam. Twenty well-known photographers, who were either Amsterdammers or Amsterdam-based, were commissioned to capture the city from their own perspectives, resulting in a personal and diverse portrait of contemporary Amsterdam. The exhibition opened initially at the FOAM photography museum in Amsterdam before travelling the world, proving a subtle promotion for the city as a place to live and work. A 308-page book of exhibition was also published, and the motto “I Amsterdam” has continued to be used in promotion of the city.
From “Changing the Tide: The campaign to re-brand Amsterdam.”
By M. Kavaratzis & G. J. Ashworth Urban and Regional Studies Institute University of Groningen Netherlands
The re-branding of places whose existing brand image has become for various reasons inappropriate or ineffective poses particular challenges to the marketing of major multifunctional cities. The position of Amsterdam as the national cultural capital and major international cultural centre has for some time been threatened by a sharpening of competition from other cities both within and outside the Netherlands and by social and economic trends within the city that have seriously undermined the previously successfully promoted brand image. Furthermore, one of the main elements of the city’s international image associated with the liberal attitude towards soft drugs and prostitution is now seen as inappropriate for the city, as it overshadows other more desirable aspects of the city’s aspirations. This has focussed official thinking and led to a serious and fundamental attempt at strategic re-branding involving a far-reaching examination of stakeholders, goals and competitive positioning. The main tangible result so far, is the recent launching of the ‘I amsterdam’ brand. This paper first elaborate on the context of the intensifying inter-urban competition expressed through the re-branding of cities. In this context, the process of developing the brand and the ‘I amsterdam’ campaign that has followed is described and explained and its likely success is assessed.
The environment in which European cities operate has significantly changed in recent years. The process of European Integration and the transition to a knowledge-intensive society are only two basic trends that prescribe new characteristics to the urban system of Europe and pose challenges to individual cities within it. According to Kotler et al. (1999), the main challenges European cities are facing are the accelerating pace of change in the global economic, political and technological environment, the growing number of competitors in their efforts to attract scarce resources and the increasing dependence on their own local resources to face growing competition. Van den Berg et al (1990) further identify the growing importance of the quality of the living and location environment as a determinant of economic growth, the fast intensifying spatial interaction among European towns, with respect to goods transport as well as business, leisure and social traffic and, finally, the diminishing influence of national governments and growing influence of regional and supranational governments. In order to secure development and growth, localities or individual cities now have to offer even more inducements to capital, whether a refashioning of the city’s economic attractiveness (e.g. tax abatements, property and transport facilities) or alterations to the city’s image through manipulation of its physical form and/or its soft infrastructure (e.g. cultural and leisure amenities) (Gospodini, 2002: 61).Within this environment, city marketing has become an increasingly popular practice across Europe. It has been developed in most cases as a response to the new conditions that the above economic, political and social changes pose to cities and their operational environment. Its use has been accelerated in an attempt for cities to position themselves strongly within the fierce competition between them for finite and increasingly mobile resources, whether investment capital, relocation of companies or recreational and business visitors.
The concept and methods of city branding have also been employed by cities in order to reinforce and manage perceptions of the cities held by relevant target audiences. The topic has also drawn scholarly attention from various disciplines (e.g. Kavaratzis and Ashworth, 2005; Trueman et al, 2004; Evans, 2003; Hauben et al, 2002). City branding is an approach that centres on the conceptualization of the city as a brand; and a brand is a multidimensional construct, consisting of functional, emotional, relational and strategic elements that collectively generate a unique set of associations in the public mind (Kavaratzis and Ashworth, 2005). This construct is what should provide guidance for all marketing efforts, in order to achieve consistency in the messages sent and in such a way that the ‘stories’ told about the city by the brand are built in the city (Kavaratzis, 2004). As Hankinson (2004) suggests, the brand lies at the centre of marketing activities and the focus of branding activities extends “beyond communications to include behaviours; a focus of considerable relevance to place branding” (Hankinson, 2004:111).
Amsterdam and its brand image
Official place marketing programmes are all too often a response to a crisis driven by political considerations. City league tables play a major role in creating and defining this sense of crisis. Although the relevance and accuracy of such rankings can be questioned and the importance attached to them by city residents or tourists has not been demonstrated, local officials and politicians in most cities all over the world take them seriously (Ashworth and Voogd 1990) and Amsterdam is no exception to this.
Metropolitan cities have been retaining their predominance by constantly attracting corporate headquarters, international finance houses, producer services, research and development, high-level public administration, internationally dominant institutions and arts and media industries (Gospodini, 2002: 62). Amsterdam has been scoring well in many of these sectors but with the competition increasing, it is precisely in this context that the city decided to develop a new marketing strategy and specifically attempt the re-branding examined in this paper.
Problems became evident in the early 1980s as Amsterdam began to slip down the various league tables of European cities in the face of competition from cities such as Brussels, Barcelona and Munich (Ashworth and Tunbridge, 1990). In the DATAR lists of European cities in 1989 Amsterdam was still 5th in art gallery visits and 10th in international congresses but did not appear in the European top 10 for international organisations, headquarters of international companies, cultural performances, or foreign visitor nights. More recently research undertaken by the city itself indicated that Amsterdam’s position had continued to weaken in a number of respects (for example hosting international conferences) and that even in the areas of relative competitive strength (e.g. as a business location) competition was increasingly sharply (City of Amsterdam 2004). Even on the national stage Amsterdam was increasingly seen as a city of problems rather than opportunities. Explanations of the weakening of the competitive position of Amsterdam have generally focussed upon the perceptions of the city held by various actual and potential users whether national or foreign and thus it is not surprising that place branding has been enthusiastically embraced as the solution to the problem.
The image problems of Amsterdam can be traced back forty years and are to some extent a consequence of earlier highly successful branding long before the term itself was in use. The image formed in the 1960s was composed of two dominant elements. First, there was the urban tourism image of ‘Vermeer townscapes and tightly packed canal side building’ (Ashworth & Tunbridge, 1990), which has become so established as to lock the city into a single historic period and single morphological product. Secondly, together with London and Copenhagen, Amsterdam acquired an international status as ‘swinging’ youth centre based upon sexual liberation and narcotic indulgence. The intrinsic problems of these images stem in part from their very strength. The established image made product diversification difficult and the tourism image of the capital was sharply discordant with the official nationally projected ‘Holland waterland’ image (NBT, 1987), and the popular ‘clogs windmills and tulips’ foreign image of the Netherlands. In part however it can be attributed to fashion changing faster than brand image. In addition, ‘… an easygoing tolerance slipped effortlessly into personal insecurity and public disorder. Acceptance of soft drugs and of sexual variations became a serious hard drugs problem and a sordid commercial sex district on the ‘Wallen’ and the city’s continuing polycentric vitality as a focus for homosexual tourism is equivocal for its general tourism promotion’ (Ashworth and Tunbridge, 2000: 221).
Vandalism, graffiti, antisocial behaviour, personal insecurity and a lack of public order became firmly established in the international as well as national psyche (VVV Amsterdam, 1987) reinforced by the 1982 public disorders at the royal inauguration and failure, partly as a consequence, of the bid to stage the Olympic games. The ‘T’ shirt slogan, ‘I went to Amsterdam and survived’ evoked a certain local pride in resilience among residents but was hardly conducive to attracting more tourists, investors or enterprises. Current ‘Easyjet’ promotion of its Amsterdam flights aims quite explicitly at a youth party market (especially ‘stag and hen’ parties) stressing the advantages of cheap alcohol, possible sexual encounters and indulgent policing.
There were a number of attempts to analyse and correct the increasingly unfavourable city image (Binnenstad Amsterdam, 1987: KPMG, 1993) but these tended to founder on a lack of official coordination and indeed political will, in a social democratic city whose interests lay in social provision for residents rather than attracting exogenous economic enterprise. However by the first decade of the twenty- first century, the necessity for re-branding had become quite evident and impossible to ignore.
Re-branding the city
Over recent years Amsterdam has had many brands promoted by diverse public agencies often for a specific purpose. The remains of some of these (for example, ‘Amsterdam Has It’, ‘Amsterdam Capital of Inspiration’, ‘Capital of Sports’, ‘Small City, Big Business’ and ‘Cool City’, ‘Amsterdam: living city’) can still be found in promotional material. However the need for long-term continuity and consistency determined that a more through approach was required.
A first step was the commissioning of a comparative study of current city marketing practice in 4 other European cities (Berlin, Dublin, Barcelona and Rotterdam). The choice of these cities was somewhat arbitrary: only Dublin and Barcelona were competitors on the European scale while Rotterdam although to some extent a competitor in some domestic markets is a city with a quite different set of functions and perceptions. This survey focused on two main subjects, namely how the marketing effort was organized in the selected cities in terms of specific organizations involved in marketing each city and on how these organisations cooperate and coordinate their actions. The general conclusion of this benchmark study was that Amsterdam compared unfavourably in both these respects. In particular, compared with the other cities, there was the lack of a clear ultimate responsibility for the Amsterdam brand, which remained muddled and muted. Five rather general lessons were drawn. There was a need for, a coherent long-term vision, a selection of priorities, a realistic promoted image, a powerful brand, and a balance in the roles of the public and private sectors (Gemeente Amsterdam, 2003). None of these were very surprising or indeed very helpful in framing policy.
Who brands Amsterdam and to whom?
The main coordinator of the whole marketing effort of Amsterdam is a newly established organisation called Amsterdam Partners. This is run by an Advisory Board, of which the chairman is the city’s burgemeester, and by a Management Board. The main executive functions within the organisation are managed by a ‘City Marketing Manager’, an ‘Events and Festivals Manager’ and a ‘Corporate Affairs Manager’. The partners in this organisation include, seven departments of the municipality, representatives from several large private companies (such as, ABN AMRO bank, Heineken, ING, KLM, Phillips and the Schiphol Airport Authority), organisations concerned with travel and tourism (such as Amsterdam Uitburo, Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board, AMS Cruiseport, Amports, Topsport AMS) and representatives from the seven neighbouring municipalities. The specific tasks of Amsterdam Partners were defined as branding, positioning and merchandising; assisting, supporting and advising on marketing festivals and events; encouraging the existence of a supportive business climate; relations with national and international media; creating a new approach to hospitality; and research and monitoring
Three primary target groups were identified, which can be summarised as businesses, residents and tourists. The first focuses especially upon business decision makers, especially of international enterprises with their head offices in the Amsterdam area, the ‘creative’ and ‘knowledge’ sectors. The second ‘active city dwellers’ that is, residents attracted by the special atmosphere of Amsterdam (such as empty nesters, two income couples, homosexual couples, young professionals and students). The third are international visitors and congress participants.
There are many questions raised by this selection. The search for ‘creative’ and ‘knowledge based’ enterprises is currently fashionable amongst urban managers but remains vaguely defined in terms of both what these are and which locations they favour. Equally, the elements of the urban ‘atmosphere’ attractive to specified groups of residents remain undefined. There is a clear tendency to being all-inclusive and it should be remembered that in place as opposed to other product marketing it is very difficult to distinguish between the various groups of users and cities are not in a position to exclude groups of users, for reasons of social justice, political balance or future security and sustainability. There is, however, a consensus that a fundamental objective of the marketing effort and a necessary precondition for its success is to make residents believe in the core values of the city, ‘feel’ the city’s brand and be proud of their city.
The main idea behind the new branding campaign, launched in September 2004, was that previously the Amsterdam brand had been badly managed. There had been little consistency of brand usage, uniformity of style and availability of image material. Both the city and the region needed a tangible new positioning; a new brand that would typify the city’s benefits and values. To this end an advertising agency developed a new logo, which was approved by the city. In the new approach, the slogan is intended to serve as an umbrella in both a practical and intrinsic sense, to be versatile without being implicit and to clearly stand for Amsterdam’s main benefits and values. They eschewed the choice of one or two dimensions, thereby excluding the rest. Amsterdam’s strengths are thought to lie in the combination of associations, the versatile city, and thus the effort was made to profile the entire range of dimensions as strongly as possible.
‘I amsterdam’ is the new slogan for the city and the region and will be the ‘flag’ on city marketing plans. The choice of the specific slogan was based on the assessment that it is clear, short, powerful and memorable. Brand usage is coordinated under the supervision of Amsterdam Partners, who especially initially while the brand is becoming established, will carefully consider how it is used, by whom, and for what purpose. The city expects to gain significant benefits in income, visitor numbers, investment, market position in the world, and general image from the new brand. These ‘returns on the brand’, are summarised in three mutually supportive components. These are the subjective mental position of an increase in familiarity and preference, a measurable increase in actual visitors, investment and purchasing behaviour, and a more general improvement in market position on the relevant international lists. The chosen slogan, ‘I amsterdam’, is certainly inclusive and all can identify with it. The parallel disadvantage is its non-specificity and also that it relies heavily on a single linguistic association in a language foreign to the city’s residents and many visitors. However, in a preliminary review Amsterdam occupied the 6th position in the world’s most successfully recognised city brands (Anholt City Brands Index 2005).
The branding is to be supported by a range of other policy measures. These include the promotion of festivals and events, which are powerful vehicles for profiling the city. Tourism will be encouraged through the ‘Hospitality’ programme which is a combination of improved information, activity and facility coordination and a campaign for hospitable reception of visitors. Marketing is to be linked to a series of continuing infrastructural planning projects, the so-called ‘pearl projects’, including the ‘Zuidas’ plans, which link image with visible development
The brand image vs. the product?
In Amsterdam the research and preparation work that was done before initiating the campaign was extensive and involved significant conceptual development, which is not common in the practice of city marketing which too often sees the marketing effort as just a promotional campaign. The chosen organization is also strong and coordination, although still not perfect, is proceeding with a broad consensus on strategy. All participants in the research and all reports on the marketing effort of the city agree that city marketing and especially city branding is a long-term activity, which needs a long time to establish both within the city and beyond. Similarly the translation of the chosen strategy into specific, feasible projects clearly demonstrate that the city has adopted a wide view of marketing and integrated it into broader city policies.
However, branding in Amsterdam is being used mainly as a promotional tool, something exemplified in the disproportionate amount of significance attributed to the merchandising that displays the logo. Furthermore there is some confusion in the meaning of the terms image, brand and logo, a confusion that extends to much of the literature of city marketing (Ashworth and Voogd, 1994). An evident distinction in the marketing and branding effort in the city of Amsterdam is between the content of policies, projects and actions and the ‘visibility of the brand’. This distinction in itself leads to the confusion of the brand and the logo chosen to ‘carry’ the brand.
The slogan, ‘I amsterdam’ has advantages over other approaches which would exclude markets and possibilities. It has the potential to address multiple audiences. However, a brand that tries to associate with everything, is risking association with nothing. The connection of the slogan with the chosen priority dimensions or the core values of creativity, innovation and spirit of commerce is also not clear.
A certain point of criticism can be concentrated on the early stage of the process when the sixteen dimensions of the city were transformed first into three core values and then to one slogan. It is not clear exactly whose choice these dimensions were and how the three core values were deduced from them. It is also not evident how the slogan ‘I amsterdam’ expresses the core values. The seven selected target groups are vague and the apparent effort to be all-inclusive, might lead to problems of ill-defined target groups and therefore confusion in actions and messages addressed to them. This, of course, seems to be an almost intrinsic characteristic of much city marketing in general, simply because of the lack of understanding of the peculiar nature of a city. Unlike commercial companies, a city is not in a position to exclude groups of users.
Finally, if city branding is a way of thinking about city management that centres on the conceptualisation of the city as a brand then the Amsterdam brand is unhelpful in this respect. Much of the strategic thinking seems to miss all the important issues. The image of dirt and disorder, of cheap beer, drugs and pornography is rooted in enough reality to make product improvement a priority over product promotion. While other European cities have invested in spectacular new cultural, tourism and infrastructural facilities, Amsterdam has done virtually nothing for 30 years. The branding effort of Amsterdam is vulnerable to the accusation of being used as a crisis-solving mechanism to provide immediate solutions to urgent problems when it should be used as a long term, consistent and proactive strategy. If the new brand developed for Amsterdam is really intended to work as “a source of orientation, identification and order” (Mommaas, 2002:36), then a redirection of efforts is needed.
From “The Making of I Amsterdam”
Analysis of carriers of the Amsterdam brand
Over recent years Amsterdam has had many brand ‘carriers’; remains of old brands can be found in promotional material. ‘Amsterdam has it’, ‘Amsterdam Capital of Inspiration’, ‘Capi- tal of Sports’, ‘Small City, Big Business’ and ‘Cool City’ are some of the examples of slogans we continue to run into. But Amsterdam needs continuity, slogans need time to be recog- nised and become effective. Slogans from the past do not provide an umbrella for Amsterdam’s key values and benefits. They tend to cover but a single dimension, or focus on a sin- gle target group.
The Amsterdam brand has also been badly managed. There were few if any agreements on brand usage, uniformity of style and availability of image material. The idea of combining slogans attracted few.
With which rules should brand carriers comply? An intrinsic descriptive brand name is recognisable yet less distinctive and specific for the brand it refers to: there are several artistic cities in the world so ‘Amsterdam city of art’ or ‘Amsterdam the art metropolis’ are neither unique nor distinctive in the communication war between cities. The same goes for a process-based descriptive brand name: a slogan such as ‘Amsterdam has it’ does not say much about Amsterdam’s identity. In the brave new world of brands and identities it calls up an image of total lack of colour rather than a distinc- tive profile. This does not mean that intrinsic and process-ori- ented slogans cannot work well in certain areas of city mar- keting. Slogans such as ‘Amsterdam Airport Area – nerve cen- ter of your European business’ is effective for the logistics sector. So carriers should also provide specific sectors the possibility to build on these slogans.
Mokum is an example of an imaginary brand name (although it has a historical foundation). An imaginary brand name is cre- ative, surprising and makes a unique link to the brand. The disadvantage, however, is that recognition might cause prob- lems as the imaginary brand name only means something when combined with the brand. These terms often come up in an unguided way. Inventing them involves a lot of energy when they need to be conveyed to the market. Unique carri- ers such as Big Apple and the City of Light lead instantly to associations and are recognised by all. These are loaded imaginary brand names which have developed a huge mean- ing.
Both the city and the region need a ‘tangible’ new position- ing; a new brand that will typify the city’s benefits and values. Organisations are willing to link their brand names to a new brand. This means the brand has to meet conditions; for instance it has to be useable for any organisation and also effective beyond national frontiers.
A new brand
In the new approach, Amsterdam Partners has opted for a slogan which will serve as umbrella in both a practical and intrinsic sense, will be versatile without being implicit and will stand for Amsterdam’s main benefits and values. I amsterdam is the new slogan for the city and region. It will be the flag on city marketing plans. It will be one of the instruments used to establish Amsterdam’s name on the world map. Why we chose for I amsterdam? It is clear, short and powerful. I ams- terdam is easy to remember and an appealing slogan accord- ing to research thusfar. I amsterdam starts in Amsterdam and its region and over time will travel the world. The concept was developed by Kessels Kramer.
The idea behind and mission of I amsterdam has been described in the manifesto. The starting point is the Amster- dammer, city ambassador. I amsterdam is the slogan for both people and area. I amsterdam allows the people to voice their pride and confidence while expressing support and love for their city. I amsterdam can be used in many ways, but must always come from the people; this is the slogans true power. The people who live here, the people who work here, the people who study here, the people who visit here and the people who come to Amsterdam seeking a better future are, in the end, the best evidence for why Amsterdam is a city of choice. I amsterdam should embody the spirit of Amsterdam, and therefore its use will create a city brand recognized the world over.
Many organisations, institutions, companies and events will be able to benefit from the new brand, however not in an unre- stricted manner and and not in any form desired. Brand usage will be coordinated under the supervision of Amsterdam Part- ners. Especially in the beginning, when the brand is still vul- nerable, Amsterdam Partners will carefully consider how it is used, by whom, for what etc.
From the brand manual
The way in which the slogan should be used has been described in the manual by Kessels Kramer. The manual specifically limits usage. This document contains the following parts:
I amsterdam conclusion form
I amsterdam applied form
I amsterdam mission statement I amsterdam slogan & proportions
I amsterdam font + colour specifications
I amsterdam pure form
I amsterdam forward I amsterdam downloads
I amsterdam legal guidelines.
A number of forms as to usage of I amsterdam are described and illustrated. I amsterdam in combination with photography is the basis for the I amsterdam campaign. Here I amsterdam shows the human face and the human story of Amsterdam.
I amsterdam also means a clear choice. I amsterdam is an active statement that can be used as an answer. Therefore, I amsterdam is a conclusion. So, use I amsterdam to answer specific questions about who, what, where and why in choices for Amsterdam. The questions themselves should be the same size and typeface as the answer: I amsterdam. Always place I amsterdam on a separate line from the question. This creates a spatial heartbeat giving I amsterdam an appropriate finality and strength. If there is more information, include the logos of partners in a separate space from the question and I amsterdam. This cues the reader to register the further sup- port and partnership for Amsterdam in the specific area in question, and maximizes the call of the City of Amsterdam overall. Where do I find inspiration? I amsterdam.
The 23rd of September marked the beginning of the ‘I ams- terdam’ campaign. Representatives from the business com- munity, cultural institutions and promotional organisations, amongst others, got acquainted with the campaign in the ele- gance and old charm of the Amsterdam Concert Hall. The book ‘I amsterdam’, showing photographs of the city, its sur- rounding area and local residents represents the first tangible result. The book will be exhibited in the Amsterdam Museum of Photography for a month, and subsequently included in a travelling exhibition, Japan to be the first destination in autumn 2004. We expressly say the start of the campaign, in spite of all the preparatory work undertaken and results already achieved. From the slogan launch we must give body to what the brand stands for. It will need time to grow, may- be 8 or 12 years, Therèse van Schie, director of the Amster- dam Uitburo, correctly commented. That is why a slogan has been chosen that can and should last for many years to come.
What has thus far been achieved was demonstrated by the testimonies of many captains of industry, creative entrepre- neurs, regional mayors and directors of cultural institutions. All of them, from Tony Ruys of Heineken to the ‘magician of Amsterdam’, Hans Klok, from the mayor of Haarlemmermeer, Fons Hertog to Duncan Stutterheim of ID&T, feel closely bound to Amsterdam. Personally, because they live and work there, and more formally as representatives of their organisa- tions. They all acknowledge the mutual interest between their organisations and the city, and hope both sides will benefit from the joint city marketing efforts. That all these partners are eager to back Amsterdam and ‘I amsterdam’ is thanks to the work undertaken over the past year and a half.
All parties clearly understand what we want to achieve. The Amsterdam ‘product’ is good, says Economics Alderman Frits Huffnagel, but could also be improved where necessary which will happen with help from other committed parties con- cerned. The city marketing and the specific campaign linked to it will benefit city, region and partners. The result will be more visitors, more companies and more residents. According to mayor Cohen the first step is for current resi- dents to feel committed to ‘I amsterdam’ and proudly carry and disseminate the slogan. Thus his appeal to all present and all people and lovers of Amsterdam – “Spread the word.”