Twenty years of Alvaro Sotomayor

Last week Creative Director, Alvaro Sotomayor celebrated his 20th anniversary of working at W+K Amsterdam.


Described as a one-man festival, a walking anti-depressant and a man who talks in emotions, Álvaro is undoubtedly the soul of the agency. To mark his anniversary we threw him a massive surprise party, which started in the garden, continued on our agency boat and ended with dancing the night away at a tropical themed party at Amsterdam’s Pllek. There were piña coladas, giant inflatable bananas and surprise family and friends from all over the world. All to honor our beloved Alvaro.

But that’s not all.

Over his twenty years Alvaro has had significant impact within the agency and on Amsterdam’s wider creative scene, which has firmly established him as a figurehead and ambassador of the city’s creative industry. Founding W+K’s incubator program – The Kennedys, becoming the first non-Dutch born advertising creative to be inducted into ADCN’s prestigious Hall of Honors and using his art to help ban bullfighting in Spain, are just some of his many achievements.

So we nominated him for the ‘Andreas Award’ – an official honor by the Amsterdam City Council awarded to individuals for ‘exceptional achievements in the domain of sports, art, politics, media or education in the city of Amsterdam with demonstrated influence beyond the city and national borders’.

In one last surprise, Alvaro was presented with the Andreas medal at Pllek by Amsterdam City Council alderman, Pieter Litjens. Once he realized the award was for real and Pieter wasn’t a stripper Alvaro had this to say:

“It humbles me to be officially recognized with this award and for living my daily motto: Live by love. Love changes a mundane day into a day worth being alive for. I want to thank my family and my friends for my surprise 20th anniversary party and for reversing the roles for a day. I felt the love!”

Want more from Alvaro? Below is an excerpt from the email he sent around the office on his Amsterversary and before he knew what was in store for him later in the day…

It was September 1995, when I flew from the airport of Maui, to LAX and from there to Amsterdam to interview at an American start up agency introducing Nike to the European continent. As it was my first official job interview I wore my super fly green velvet three-piece suit and a tan as deep as Jay-Z. I arrived at the quaint city of Amsterdam on one of the most glorious summer sunny days. It was 28 degrees outside so perhaps velvet wasn’t the best choice of wardrobe. But my other option was some Californian bowling attire so I went for the safe choice.

Twenty years later, today, the sun still shines and my life is amazing. Being at an agency where the motto is “walk stupid everyday” you can imagine I felt at home. And I still do, daily. I walk in stupid and I still fall in love with this place and everyone in it. I relate to Dori in Finding Nemo or goldfish. I go round and round this place thinking is an ocean.

I am surprised how little it has changed. And how our traditions persist. But heck some things have changed – we got a boat! And a bar! And ping pong tournaments! This place is amazing. This place really brings out the best in us. I am excited to write this again in 2035. I think we can make people believe there is hope in the world and convince them with our smiles.

Here’s to the next 20 Alvaro!


Photos by Stephania Karathanasi – and view more HERE!   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *