23 June 2011

I bike you very much

The public space in Amsterdam is devoid of crap-vertising, the city resisting pimping out every inch to the highest bidder with the loudest message. I never really thought about what a luxury that is. That is not to say there are no advertisements, they are just kept to a minimum, and confined to selected places. None of those fully covered advertising buses and taxis, like we suffer them in Copenhagen. Once you get even a short break from that garbage, you realise how draining it is to filter out on a daily basis. A note to the advertisers and the people in charge of this mayhem: we are not just consumers, we are human beings. Please treat us accordingly.

There are other ways of getting your message through than "loud" and "obnoxious" (and sexist and condescending). We already have bike-vertising in Copenhagen with the flyers, seat covers and the campaign bikes, but the Dutch are way ahead of us.

Origami advertising


The origami birds. I found them attached to a couple of bikes, a mystery begging to be solved. Inside was a suggestion to pay someone a compliment and offering them an origami bird, pay-it-forward-style (it was in Dutch so you will have to go by my interpretation). There was a link, but no scare tactics, no making you feel like your life is incomplete without some crappy product. Can you imagine? I had to look it up, and that is already more than most advertisers can hope for. What was it about then, you ask? An online gift card service, of all things.

And then there was the airline luggage style strips, left there by the bicycle basket company. The concept: leave the strip hanging on your bike until a set date, and you will automatically enter the competition to win a bicycle basket. All they invite you to do is nothing. How can they lose?

I want my basket

This is your bike speaking. I want my basket. (haha)

Even the bicycle stores are cool:

The WorkCycles shop after hours. Artwork by artist Abner Preis.

Laugh more.

Live more.

Amsterdam I miss you already.


  1. I approve of this post :)

  2. That sounds like an American campaign advertisement: "My name is Marc van Woudenberg, and I endorse this message." :)

    I can hardly wait to get to Amsterdam again.

  3. I am not sure being compared to a US politician is a good thing? When I get exited about something (good or bad) I can't just sit on it, you know? There is a spanking it this post too, if you look closely, I really wish that the Danish advertising agencies would rethink their approach. The latest ugliness is from a crappy soda brand, encouraging girls to upload their naked breast on their website to win an enlarged set in silicone. And they do.

  4. I'm not sure being compared to most any politician is a good thing, but yes, especially an American (sorry Marc) :)

    We love to plaster things with advertisement here as well - unfortunately we also have a thing for doing everything in the public realm as cheaply as possible, so not only are the advertisements obtrusive, but they are often bland and uninteresting too. We've also started covering up old painted advertisements that at least have some charm and character to them with big plastic banners and billboards advertising new things like "environmentally friendly" electric cars, and mobile phones.

    I haven't seen any ads telling people to send in photos of their breasts though (we're too prudish to suggest such a thing anyway, just the word breast on a billboard would probably be considered inappropriate if it wasn't followed by cancer).

    Maybe that soda company is just trying to start a porn business on the side and figures that would be an easy way to do it :)

  5. Well the soda thing made it to the news, so someone other than me found it worth mentioning. I don't know if there is any coming back decency once you have hit rock bottom (surely we can't get any lower than this?).

    The content is going from crappy and braindead to downright harmful, and we are bombarded with in in the public space. We need ad-block for the real life, here.

    On the bright side a grocery store owner stated that he was going to stop selling the crappy soda, even when it is going to cost him, because there is a limit. Profit is not everything, after all. Maybe there is still hope?

  6. I think there's always hope that *some* people will resist. It's nice, in cases like this, when businesses are still owned by local people, because they are more likely to protest something like this, whereas a massive chain company won't care about any sort of ethical concerns and will just do whatever makes them the most money.

    The thing is, there are always people in a culture who reject the horrible parts of the culture. Germans, Dutch, Italians etc under fascist rule, Russians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians under Communist rule, Americans under Corporate rule. There are always some people who notice it and try to do something about it, and so there is always hope.

    But personally, I'm ready to go somewhere that I'm not constantly fighting just to make my preferred way of life possible, not to mention accepted or comfortable. :)

  7. Between Sunset Boulevard in LA, and the strip in Vegas, yes, I'm ready to go back to discreet advertizing.
    And YAY, good job New York (I had to say it!)

  8. So very YAY New York. Finally.


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