Hazelle Klønhammer, President & Partner at Anomaly Amsterdam

The city’s international character, its enormous creative talent pool, the close-knit creative community, the excellent infrastructure – each of these added to the case for choosing Amsterdam when Anomaly was deciding in 2011 where to open its third overseas branch. As Klønhammer puts it: “The support that the NFIA and amsterdam inbusiness (aib) offered was invaluable when we were setting up our Dutch branch.”

A different kind of agency

Hazelle Klønhammer, President & Partner at Anomaly Amsterdam, explains: “It’s difficult to define what kind of company Anomaly is. But actually, our name gives you the clue: we’re an anomaly, and we do things differently than others in our industry. Anomaly breaks out of branch traditions to offer its clients solutions that far transcend the stereotypical industry solutions. 

“Most agencies view a client’s problem from the perspective of their own core competencies and fixed resources, so despite the complexity and diversity of a clients problems the agency invariably arrives at the same solution: a 30 second TV commercial. For Anomaly while we are more than capable of doing traditional advertising we are not ideologically or infrastructurally compelled to because our business model permits us to manifest our capabilities and choose our resources, through the lens of our clients needs.”

This approach has resulted in Anomaly offering extremely varied and dynamic services. “We offer our clients a great range of solutions, from brand consultancy and guerrilla marketing right through to development of their in-house intellectual property. There are no limits to the possibilities.”

Avec Eric

An example of Anomaly’s diverse approach is their work with Eric Ripert, co-owner and Executive Chef of Michelin three-star restaurant Le Bernardin in New York. Chef Ripert wanted to create a brand of his own, one capable of expressing his own personal philosophy and views on the culinary world. In partnership with Eric, Anomaly created a culinary lifestyle brand called Avec Eric , which is comprised of an Emmy Award winning television series, a cookbook, and a selection of brand partnerships including the Ripert Kitchen for Poggenpohl. Klønhammer says, “Anomaly managed to reach over 35 million viewers with the TV programme in the US alone, and the website pulled in another 1.2 million. Now, the series is syndicated in 41 countries around the world. You can hardly achieve that scale of global impact through traditional methods.”

Anomaly was founded in New York in 2004 by five partners, each of whom already had many years behind them in advertising, marketing and communications. Since that time, the organisation has enjoyed unfettered growth, and besides its New York headquarters, now boasts branches in London, Amsterdam, Toronto and Shanghai. Klønhammer adds, “Yet growth is not really what we’re aiming for; It’s more important for us to be recognised as thought leaders in our industry than care about how many employees we have.

Creative hub

Choosing Amsterdam as the location for a third overseas branch was a no-brainer for Anomaly. “Given the innovative nature of our business model, Amsterdam was a perfect match in every way. The eclectic mix of cultures and nationalities in this city makes it a world-class hub of creative talent, and that’s essential for a company like ours. Besides, Amsterdam's remarkable and unique character attracts particular types of clients who are open-minded and willing to consider innovative concepts, which are exactly the type of clients we like to work with.

One aspect of Amsterdam she regards as unique is the close collaboration within the creative community. “ Our industry peers were incredibly welcoming. It’s a very tight knit community within a very transient society.  We all know each other well and help each other out. I could never see that happening in more competitive cities.” 

Anomaly has already made its own creative mark on the city by opening its Unfortunately Small Gallery. “The Unfortunately Small Gallery is an exhibition space totalling 2.3 square meters (25 sq. ft),” Klønhammer explains, “officially making it Amsterdam’s tiniest gallery.” “It’s where we offer artists the chance to show art inspired by and adapted to the space available. I never cease to be amazed by just how much talent there is in this fantastic city!”

Gateway to Europe

Above all, Klønhammer is bowled over by the Netherlands’ efficient infrastructure, particularly in the capital. “Amsterdam is a city where you can be completely spontaneous and where you can attend multiple social or business events on the same day because you can get pretty much anywhere within ten minutes, whether you travel by bike, tram, bus or boat. And the proximity to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol makes it so easy for clients and colleagues to visit us from abroad, and also to travel onward to our other overseas branches.”

Added together, all these aspects make Amsterdam a key cultural and economic gateway to the European continent, if you ask Anomaly. “When choosing where to open our European hub, we did look at other European cities, including Berlin. But as far as we’re concerned, there’s simply no other European city that can match what Amsterdam has to offer.”

Invaluable help

The NFIA (which is also known as Invest in Holland) was involved from the outset in setting-up Anomaly’s Dutch branch. It contributed especially by introducing the Anomaly New York team to Amsterdam’s creative community. For instance, Marco de Vries, then the NFIA’s New York director, and Anouk van der Kruk, project manager at NFIA HQ in The Hague, organised events like lunch meetings to help Anomaly come into contact with industry peers and sector organisations in the Amsterdam area.  In offering this help, the NFIA worked in close partnership with Ron Boyle, senior manager of amsterdam inbusiness (aib), NFIA’s regional partner for Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. The NFIA further assisted Anomaly with a range of tax-law and other legal considerations regarding setting up a Dutch office, as well as putting Anomaly in touch with numerous local service providers for those aspects.

Klønhammer says, “The NFIA is unbelievably well-organised. The support they are able to provide to foreign companies setting up Dutch branches is truly invaluable. What’s more, they have the right attitude: right from the get-go, their staff give you that reassuring feeling that you can totally trust them. In particular, Ron Boyle has done a lot to champion creativity in Amsterdam. He plays an important role in attracting creative companies to relocate to Amsterdam, by convincingly inspiring them about the huge talent pool in this market and the ease of servicing international business here. We have a lot to thank him and the NFIA for.”

Source: Invest in Holland, November 2013