I amSterdam, Madrid is mad


You can say many bad things about Amsterdam’s city marketing campaign I AmSterdam, but at least in some respect it works. A mix of the phrase “I am Amsterdam” and “I heart Amsterdam,” the slogan lets people express their positive feelings towards the city in a tacky but unified manner.

Madrid tries to copy the formula, and copies everything that is wrong about the I AmSterdam campaign. It is tacky. You cannot force a meaningful emotional response with a cold marketing campaign. The formula replaces core values—the reasons why people like Amsterdam or Madrid—with empty slogans. And in doing so, the campaigns are insulting to their audiences’ intelligence.

But Madrid’s copy takes things one step further: it just doesn’t work. “Madrid about you” is a funny pun, but the way the logo is styled makes it say: “Madrid equals mad” (the “about you” is de-emphazised by shoving it to the bottom and printing it in a smaller font.) Critical Spanish designer Rafa Celda says in El Pais that the people who came up with this campaign are trying too hard. “This is like one of those logos that comes with a manual.”

Via Nieuws uit Amsterdam (Dutch). Photo by Matt Rubens, distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.


  1. Branko Collin says:

    Yup, good call! Or indeed the granddaddy of them all, I heart New York, a phrase that has been copied so often in this form that I forgot it originated with a city marketing campaign for the US state of New York.

  2. Juanma says:

    Good post. I am from Madrid and living in Amsterdam for some time now. Personally, I find Amsterdam’s city council slogan quite good and projecting a great message for the citizen (or tourist) to believe in and to take care of the city. I agree with your post on the initiative coming from Madrid, I wonder if the right message is being sent out to all international audience or it is more a word-game that could just make sense to the Spaniard due to a misuse of the term MAD. The interesting thing for me behind is that every time I pass by the Dutch slogan at the Museumplein is always packed with Spaniards taking pictures of it in the background…

  3. Orangemaster says:

    Having a slogan that only the locals can understand defeats the purpose. The fact that the Amsterdam slogan is a statue makes people take pictures. I personally enjoyed Masterdam that was used for some football competition once.

  4. Al says:

    There is also


    I wonder which one will be the next
    PARIS Good for you
    SO NICE !

  5. […] red to emphasise Dam looks like a rip off of the I Amsterdam slogan, which, if you follow this link, was also pporly ripped off by Madrid. Second, the whole […]

  6. Pip says:

    I actually prefer MADrid to IAmsterdam! No one gets IAmsterdam and seems the Dutch natives prefer it to native English speakers who can see it doesn’t really make sense gramatically or otherwise: I ‘what?’ Amsterdam or ‘I Am Sterdam”!?!

    This Amsterdam logo says it all I think while being subtle and aesthetic. OK I’m biased, but check it out:


  7. World Travel says:

    Madrid – The Capital of Spain, several-millions city located in the heart of the Iberian peninsula, almost in its geographical center. I like this city and can tell this is my favourite place all over the world. Great architecture, great style and great people.

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