merijn oudenampsen on Tue, 16 Mar 2010 16:56:42 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-nl] rectificatie branding debat

Beste mensen,

hier een kleine rectificatie. Het hele Electrosmog festival is bij deze gratis verklaard, het branding debat inbegrepen.

Small rectification. The entire electrosmog festival is free entrance.



To Brand or not to Brand
The Electrosmog Global Citybranding debate

Thursday March 18th, 21.00hrs – 23.00hrs
De Balie | Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10 |
Venues: De Balie, Amsterdam / Eyebeam, New York / Medialab Prado, Madrid

Entrance is Free

Branding strategies are the object of extensive critical research,
mostly from the area of urban sociology. This research tries to figure
out how such large scale urban and regional product-packaging strategies
are affecting local economic structures, land and real-estate, local tax
provisions, social housing, traffic flows, and other conditions that
have an immediate impact on the daily life of residents.

In this debate, designers, artists, activists, architects and
sociologists will look at the relation between branding and
sustainability. Citybranding - or nation branding - attempts to hook up
a location to the international flow of tourists, goods, workers and
capital. It makes a lot of sense from a short term economic point of
view. From the point of view of sustainability, however, these branding
strategies are highly questionable. They add to the problematic of
hypermobility that is under discussion in the Electrosmog festival.

In a broader sense the critique of city branding addresses the question
of whether it is a good idea to profile places as products in an
international market instead of living environments for their
inhabitants. On the other hand, one could ask, whether cities and
regions are economically viable at all without effective branding and
promotion strategies. Are there alternative branding strategies?

Contributions by:

Merijn Oudenampsen, Amsterdam
Ana Méndez & Isidro López, Observatorio Metropolitano, Madrid <>
Beka Economopoulos & Jason Jones, Not An Alternative, New York <>
Daniel van der Velden,designer and writer, Meta-haven, Brussels /
Amsterdam <>
Eva Ramos López, Town Planning and Housing Area, Madrid City Council


Merijn Oudenampsen
The smiling facade: building the brand of Amsterdam

Amsterdam started branding itself in the eighties, through the already
forgotten /Amsterdam// Heeft ‘t/ campaign. It appealed in popular slang
to existing residents of Amsterdam, instructing them to become proud
‘sellers of the town’. The campaign was part and parcel of a paradigm
shift: a new entrepreneurial policy took over from the old Keynesian way
of running things. Presently, Amsterdam is one of the best brands
around. The city sells itself through the I Amsterdam campaign. A slick,
life size billboard pops up on prominent tourist locations. Tracing the
history of the Amsterdam branding campaigns, we can see that they are
not simply superficial promotion campaigns but the linchpin of a new
urban policy that sells cities as products in the international marketplace.

Merijn Oudenampsen is a political and urban researcher. Besides working
on issues such as citybranding, the creative city, and urban
redevelopment more broadly, he is currently concerned with the
spectacular ascendance of Dutch populist politics.

Isidro López and Ana Méndez de Andés (Obsevatorio Metropolitano)
Madrid, Global City?

In the last ten years Madrid has become, to the surprise of it’s
inhabitants, a true global city, an important node in the shortlist of
competitive cities. By 2009, it had the fourth airport in Europe as to
the transit of passenger's (after Heathrow, Paris and Frankfurt). It
also occupied second place in terms of International Trade Shows, after
London. It is the eighth city in of the world with regard to
multinational headquarters and, in fact, sells more hotel nights than

This economic development has, nevertheless, not been accompanied by a
focused branding strategy. Unlike Barcelona, Madrid has not built a
clear 'brand' to sell, an identity beyond the simple idea of a city full
of (economic) opportunities. But this lack of a global image is
compensated by different and quite situated projects that, together, can
be used to outline the principles behind this next phase of urban
development in Madrid. The two (and counting) bids for the Olympic Games
<>, the regeneration of the city
centre in order to attract business tourism
(average hotel stay is less than 1.5 nights) or to create revanchist
projects in 'black holes' of the city, and a new will to create and
promote Madrid's creative industries, are very much trying to take
advantage of Madrid's global characteristics while exploiting its
metropolitan cultural production.

The Observatorio Metropolitano is an activist research group that has
been studying these global processes and the way they shape our city in
order to provide the social movements with the theoretical, analytical
and politic tools that would help us to face the transformations Madrid
is experiencing.

Beka Economopoulos and Jason Jones, Not An Alternative, New York
Rebranding Williamsburg

In 2005 the neighborhood (Williamsburg/Greenpoint) where Not An
Alternative is based was up for NYC's most aggressive rezoning in
history. Not An Alternative took part in a rezoning/gentrification
campaign, of which they will show some specific interventions, such as:

A video project that inserts community members into the city's Autocad
rendering of what the future Williamsburg would look like if their
zoning regulations pass. I.e., the city and developer's advertisement
for the future. See:
And in that same vein, a big billboard using a modified still /
screenshot of the city/developer's ad, placed on the main street,
Bedford Avenue, as a means to publicize the campaign. Not An Alternative
took polaroid pics of passersby who'd insert themselves into the image,
created a photo petition wall for city council, and had folks signs
postcards to legislators with the same image. It functioned like a
traditional activist campaign in that regard, but with the intervention
on the city ad campaign we aimed to produce an ad for what our future
neighborhood could look like: one in which the creative class subverted
its traditional role, and engaged in fighting gentrification:

Not An Alternative is a non-profit organization based in Brooklyn,
New York, whose mission aims to integrate art, activism and theory in
order to affect popular understandings of events, symbols and history/


The branding of places belongs to image politics today. While the
theoretical foundation of branding – 'soft power' – is being put to the
test across the board, today's geopolitical world order and its hasty
single-issue coalitions reveal imminent shifts in global influence which
place branding was never prepared to deal with. In a series of short
observations based on the dynamics at play at the 2009 Copenhagen
Climate Summit, we will address a few of the most urgent changes.

Metahaven is a design office based in Amsterdam and Brussels. Their
book Uncorporate Identity (Lars Müller Publishers, 2010) presents an
epic series of narratives on the relation between politics and design./

Eva Ramos (Oficina del Centro of the Madrid Town Hall)
The Future Image of Madrid

The Office for the Centre (Oficina del Centro) is currently drawing-up a
Strategic Project for Madrid City Centre. The main objective of this
project is the characterization of the central area of the city, laying
out a final model for it. A model based in a new cultural organization
that would become a symbol of the future image of the city.

We are, therefore, looking for the identity of the city, through the
strengthening of its qualities, i.e., working for and from citizen's
visions, and setting up the tools needed to improve their quality of
life to make Madrid more attractive for its own inhabitants.

This improvement of the standards of life entails a better response to
the most demanding needs from the Madrid population. The population we
want to attract and settle, is one which has been shown to improves the
city's competitiveness: the creative class.

Eva Ramos is an urban planner working for the Madrid City Hall.

-- Merijn Oudenampsen

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