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Soles designed to navigate cobbled streets, crafted from fabric that can endure the odd beer spillage, and free entry to cultural institutions across Amsterdam. This is the Amsterdam sneaker, designed and launched by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines specifically for those who choose to visit the city via a KLM flight. We explore the insights behind the campaign, and explain why it makes sense for an airline to offer more than just a flight.

The trainers don’t look like wooden clogs, but do come in bright orange to match the Dutch royal colours. "We had the shoe made after a few criteria," says Ulf Rönnbäck, copywriter at Pool, the Stockholm agency behind the campaign. "It had to be durable, since it really should be used for walking... the outer had to be durable as well, as the weather in Amsterdam is not always sunny, and we figured it had to be able to bear a spill of beer." Importantly, the sneakers come with an ‘I Amsterdam’ city card, which grants the wearer free access to Amsterdam’s top sights and attractions. They're not for everyone, though; people can only get their hands on a pair by flying with KLM to Amsterdam or by bidding on an online auction.  

Trainers that really introduce tourists to the city
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (2017) ©

Tourists spent as much as €73 billion in Amsterdam in 2015, and in such a crowded travel marketplace it takes something a bit unusual to stand-out. By creating trainers for a specific city, KLM intends to provide the wearer with an experience that could help them to feel more a part of the local culture – ideal, given that in 2013, 93% of Airbnb guests visiting Amsterdam said they wanted to ‘live like a local’, an insight that numerous campaigns and start-ups have been built upon.

The Amsterdam sneaker isn’t the first foray into footwear from an airline; in 2016, easyJet also released a pair of trainers designed for city breaks. They had built-in bluetooth sensors that connected with the wearer’s phone and guided them through the city with a series of vibrations. But would tourists really want to replace their usual Nike tick or Adidas pyramid with an airline logo?


Charles Pickering is a researcher at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. He previously completed a Master’s degree in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology at Oxford, and loves a good dataset.


27 Mar 17
2 min read

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