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Ex-Euro RSCG Execs Do Their Own Thing

Kingsday launches in Amsterdam with no clients, one intern

Sander Volten, Bram de Rooij, Sicco Beerda, Eric Ytsma | Photo Credit: Jasper Zwartje

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The former business, creative, and strategic leaders of Euro RSCG's globally recognized shop in The Netherlands have resurfaced with their own agency. Kingsday (the name is a play on the Dutch national holiday of Queen's Day) opens this week in Amsterdam with four partners, one intern, and the goal of attracting pan-regional and global business. At Euro RSCG 4D in Amsterdam, the partners—Sander Volten, Sicco Beerda, Bram de Rooij and Eric Ytsma—worked on everything from cars (Volvo) to packaged goods (Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Kraft Foods). Now, with a mix of advertising, public relations, and digital marketing, they aim to make some noise on their own. Volten discussed the breakaway in an exclusive interview with Adweek.

What prompted you to leave Euro RSCG?
We’re all in our mid-30s [except for Ytsma, who is 43], and in advertising, the greatest thing that you can do is start your own agency. That feeling has been rising in us for the last few years. And with the success we’ve had over the last few years, it also seemed like a logical moment to do it now.

Why does Amsterdam—let alone advertising—need another agency?
We had some very big European and global clients [at Euro RSCG] like Volvo, Nokia, and Unilever. Amsterdam is a great place. It’s very creative. We have a lot of people coming in from all over the world. It's very international… But what you miss in that town is an agency like that that’s run by Dutch people. They’re all run by either Americans or British people, and I think it’s nice to have one international agency that’s also run by Dutch people.

What’s your agency model?
I don’t buy it anymore that you should be everything to all people. Bringing in specialists [is a good thing]. At least, we’ve done that over the last few years.

What do you want to be known for?
Although we’ve grown up in a digital environment, we’ve always very much been in the branding side of things and…more on the traditional creative side than on platform building, website building, or all that. That’s something we have done over the last few years. So we definitely want to continue (that). And we put in the PR because we can see now that with social media the role of PR or digital PR is increasingly important.

What agencies do you admire?
In Amsterdam, you have Wieden, which has had a great run over the last year. Internationally, there are a couple of shops in the U.K. that are doing nicely. AKQA—they have a lot of the platform stuff. Anomaly—they have a very interesting story. That’s a very interesting shop. Of course, you have very big shops that are interesting: Crispin and BBH in London.

What are the advantages of striking out on your own?
We live in a time that there’s not that much required to actually start an agency. If you looked back 10 or 15 years, it was much more difficult to start an agency because of the investment that you needed. We don’t need that much investment. So, that’s one. Secondly, when you work in a network, there are certain options that you fall into in your positioning to clients. That’s fine. I understand why that is when you work within a network. But it’s nice now that we’re going out on our own we can really build our own story and really make our own box, even though maybe we don’t want to be in a box. But at least we can say that’s the box that you should come to us for.

Anomaly, I think, started with an investment of $200,000. How expensive is it for you?
That figure is actually quite interesting because it’s similar to what we have estimated. You estimate, what’s the figure that gets you through the first year if you have no business, right? That’s kind of how you look at it. I think that figure is quite right. That’s the figure that we’re looking at.