Ai ai ai Amsterdam

iamsterdamlogoonmoveThe local anti-vertrutting (“anti-frumpication”)  action group AI! Amsterdam,  who this summer successfully lobbied for the easing of terrace laws, has changed their logo after being threatened with legal action from the city since their  original logo was a  parody of  the I Amsterdam city marketing campaign. Hmm so not having a sense of humour is good for the city brand?

These are complicated times we live in. It was all much simpler back in the 1970s. To entice more people to visit Amsterdam all you had to do was put out some posters cajoling long-haired  American targets to “Fly KLM, sleep in the Vondelpark”. Word of mouth did the rest.

And then there was the tourist board’s Get In Touch With The Dutch campaign during the 1960s. This one just gets me all misty-eyed; those must have truly been the most innocent of times.

And for the last few years, it’s been I amsterdam. I can imagine it can work to help attract tourists and business.  I only start seeing red when  it peddles the  delusional idea that it also works to  unify regular Amsterdammers. It’s as if the local government  actually believes that culture is not a grassroots phenomena but rather something that can be shoved down  our throats from the top down.

OK, it’s easy to criticise. Marketing a city can’t be easy. I certainly can’t come up with anything better. “Ich bin ein Amsterdammertje” would probably generate the same confusion and controversy as JFK’s grammatical gaffe, “Ich bin ein Berliner”. And “Handy Airport. Lotsa Coffeeshops”, while appealing to both the business- and leisure-minded, lacks a certain elegance.

I think I’d just opt for golden oldies like ‘Amsterdamned’ or ‘Amsterdamaged’. I regard these  lines as way more effective ambassadors.  After all, the visiting dope smokers of today may just hold our city’s future in their hands. I figure it was mostly sentimental ex-hippies who invested in this city during the booming 1990s. They figured it would be a good excuse to come and visit a few times a year, and maybe recreate certain perfect relaxed coffeeshop moments from decades past. (And these investments  got the city thinking that they could get even more by  coming up with  that era’s  ho-hum city marketing ploys — “Gateway to Europe”   and “Capital of Inspiration” — that resulted in the building of lots of  new office space that today stands largely empty…).

Anyway… it was short-sighted to force  Ai! Amsterdam to change their logo. The city is losing  a perfect co-branding opportunity with a group that is both  grassroots and community-driven.

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Posted in Uncategorized 14 years, 10 months ago at 9:04 am.

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