By Steven Heywood (GM, Edelman Amsterdam) in Influence Online.

Every agency website shouts about being integrated, but in reality, bolting on talent from the ‘Mad Men’ legacy advertising world to an existing PR agency creates nothing more than additional services you can sell to clients.

We all know that the world of comms is changing and in five years as a Brit in Amsterdam, I’ve seen a city that is well placed to play a leading role in defining what true integrated marketing communication means.


Hiring brilliant talent with capabilities across the entire marketing spectrum is, of course, important. But what changes the game is the ability to integrate these capabilities within insights, strategy, creative platform development and 360-degree activation into one smart, cohesive programme which responds directly to a client’s business objectives.

Walking the talk requires a fundamental shift in the way that you manage your agency, from recruitment through to resource management and training.

We’ve been able to accelerate progress in these areas by drawing on the competitive advantages of Amsterdam.

Quality of life, a greater familiarity with continental Europe and fluent English in a culture which isn’t Anglo-centric helps with finding the people you need to deliver in this fast-changing landscape.

Here in our office (in Zuidas, which is best described as an extremely boutique version of Canary Wharf) our 100 employees are predominately drawn from the local labour market with around a quarter coming from across the globe – helped by the Netherlands’ progressive and business-minded immigration policies and first-rate services for expats.

But it goes deeper than that – the Dutch market has never been the playground of the ad agency but has, instead, become a hotbed of tech, adtech and fintech innovation.  Amsterdam has increasingly been dubbed the ‘Silicon Canals’ with the numbers of Dutch Unicorns on the rise.

Whether its tech, adtech, healthtech or fintech, The Netherlands has been the birthplace of the likes of and Catawiki who we’re proud to say are already on our books.

We’ve found tech savvy comms pros (particularly millennials) want to work on these kinds of brands which helps with talent acquisition and upskilling digital natives as part of a ‘one team’ approach to client servicing.

As a result, far from being an outpost which delivers global toolkits, we’re increasingly being recognized as pioneering innovative campaigns. Recent work includes Sabre award-winners and comms advice for the largest IPO in the Netherlands.

There are definitely things I miss from working in London – Amsterdam is certainly not a 24/7 city and I miss the energy and drive that abounds in almost all dimensions of life in London – but what I have learnt is that noise and energy do not always equal (integrated) impact.

Photo by Eirik Skarstein on Unsplash