American advertising agency Sockeye opens 'creative consulate’ in Amsterdam

Making it easier for European brands to connect culturally in the US

16 JUNE 2016, AMSTERDAM/PORTLAND, OR
Summary
US-based advertising agency Sockeye opens a ‘creative consulate’ in Amsterdam. The second, and first foreign branch of the independent agency concentrates on companies that want to achieve greater success in the US marketplace and deliver stronger creative work.

"We are looking for courageous companies that want to connect better culturally in the States," said Sockeye’s President Andy Fraser. The agency has 20+ employees plus a fixed group of 75 creative professionals, and is based in Portland, Oregon servicing companies in North America. Sockeye Amsterdam serves the European market.

"It is less about where brands are located. It’s more about how they think and where they want to go,” said Fraser.

European and American campaigns differ

“European brands can struggle to connect in North America,” says Peter Metz, co-founder and executive creative director of Sockeye. “Nuance of language and tone is everything. We’re here to emotionally connect European brands to U.S. consumers while staying true to their roots.”

Metz praises the design in Europe, although European brands often use rational selling propositions as central theme for messaging. American brands focus more on storytelling. At the same time, European brands seem more aware of the intelligence of their audiences; creative strategy comes from profound insights.

“There are differences in sensitivities when it comes to sex and violence in advertising in the US. And we are also seeing different trends in honesty within a brand’s creative approach,” Fraser observes.

Honest creative

Sockeye has the innate ability to quickly come to the core of a client’s story, Metz explains. "We know the US market through and through. We know what works out there and what does not. Therefore, we can tell a story that connects emotionally, through a strong, true voice. We come from Portland, a city of great, honest creative. We feel that this approach is valuable for European brands entering the US marketplace."

"In 1996, we opened in Portland with zero agency experience. It continues to give our clients a fresh perspective," Fraser believes. "We were filmmakers, psychologists, dog trainers and poets before we were ad people. And actually, we are still not really ad people.”

Fraser does not think in terms of ‘profit’ or ‘loss’. “We benefit most when we connect brands with people. We are here to inspire creativity and to work with courageous people who have a purpose to inspire those around them to make a positive impact on the world. We are in Europe for new experiences. Without new experiences, creativity dies.”

Either courageous, or stupid

In America, Sockeye’s clients include adidas, Zoom+, Portland State University, Breakside Brewery and Ruby. These brands all share a sense of courage in building strong, disruptive brands with purpose.

Sockeye Amsterdam, however, begins without customers. "We are either courageous or stupid. We hope the first", laughs Metz. The agency selected Amsterdam as their European foothold. Why? Inspiration is the consensus within Sockeye. "Amsterdam is a global hub with a super strong creative community," Fraser notes. "The city seems in character similar to Portland: fiercely independent, progressive and open-minded" Are there any differences? "Yes, the Heineken is much better in Amsterdam."

Portal

Sockeye’s ‘creative consulate' on the Amsterdam’ canals serves as a portal to the creative teams in Portland. For that Leander van Altena (previously General Manager at Blast Radius and These Days Y&R in Amsterdam) has been appointed as Director New Business & Client Services Europe. In the near future Sockeye plans to staff the Amsterdam office with creative teams of its own.

Quotes
"We are here to inspire creativity and to work with courageous people who have a purpose to inspire those around them to make a positive impact on the world. We are in Europe for new experiences. Without new experiences, creativity dies." Andy Fraser, president of Sockeye
"European brands can struggle to connect in North America. Nuance of language and tone is everything. We’re here to emotionally connect European brands to U.S. consumers while staying true to their roots." Peter Metz, executive creative director of Sockeye
"Amsterdam is a global hub with a super strong creative community. The city seems in character similar to Portland: fiercely independent, progressive and open-minded." Andy Fraser, president of Sockeye
"We can tell a story that connects emotionally, through a strong, true voice. We come from Portland, a city of great, honest creative. We feel that this approach is valuable for European brands entering the US marketplace." Peter Metz, executive creative director of Sockeye
Images
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