On 27 July 2009, a video called The Truth About Amsterdam was posted on YouTube. The video responded to views about Amsterdam expressed by an American political TV talk show on Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor. Comments and assumptions made on the show had portrayed Amsterdam as a 'cesspool of corruption and crime', 'boasting free drugs and free love'. Two Amsterdam locals -- and several more to follow -- disagreed.
Proudly supported by the ATCB
Produced by locals Robbert Nieuwenhuis and Elian Wils, The Truth About Amsterdam aimed to cast light on the reality of Amsterdam life - beyond the common stereotypes of the city and blatant false claims of the O'Reilly Factor. They showed the side of the city that residents experience; families on bakfietsen, busy canals and buskers on the Leidseplein, while illustrating the facts about drugs and corruption in the Netherlands against that of the USA.
Nieuwenhuis and Wils pitched their creative concept to the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board (ATCB), who recognised the viral video as a great opportunity to engage the lucrative American market and break through the common misconceptions of Amsterdam. The viral formed part of an inspired marketing campaign for the ATCB. Production remained entirely in the hands of Nieuwenhuis and Wils, with funding and stock footage supplied by the ATCB.
Revealing the truth
To date, there have been over 400, 000 views and thousands of comments (in support of both views) on YouTube. The ATCB also supported the creation of a website for people to express their own Truth About Amsterdam. In November 2009, the ATCB announced their involvement in the video. This had not been revealed earlier, in order to strengthen the impact of the viral and to avoid influencing the reactions and discussion that emerged from the video.
"We stand by our choice", stated Eduard Peter Oud from the ATCB. "We did not aim to deceive the viewers, but rather to facilitate an open forum and to communicate The Truth to potential visitors of Amsterdam". On 14 January 2010, the ATCB won the national CityMarketing Innovation Award for the viral campaign.
Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board, updated 22 January 2010