Spotlight On NW Creative: W+K Keeps Local Talent At Arm’s Length

Iain Tait, Global Interactive Executive Creative Director at W+K, is looking for digital talent. But not just any digital talent mind you, W+K is “quite fussy,” after all.

I don’t know Tait personally, but I can’t help pausing to question the contents of his Tweet, for said contents could be offensive to Portlanders who might not like Tait’s “remote corner” assertion, true though it may be.

I also question why Tait and team are not looking closer to home. Portland is notorious for attracting (and producing) talented people of all sorts, tech talent included. Could it be that W+K’s recruiters have already looked under every local tree? No. I’m pretty sure the thought is if there’s quality talent right outside W+K’s door, they’d know about it.

But they don’t know, because W+K’s recruiters do the creative directors’ bidding and neither recruiter nor creative director travels in local circles. W+K is in Portland, but not of Portland. If you want a job there, or a freelance gig, you need to go through Cannes first.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. says:

    David, really? This feels like that ridiculous PAF Rosies Smackdown campaign that just made PDX look provincial..

    • It’s funny that you’d see my post that way Dave, since lack of sophistication or perspective is precisely what I’m railing on.

  2. Whateva says:

    All agencies are the same, in terms of deeming local talent unworthy. Chicago agencies are notorious for literally demanding all candidates be from other big markets with plenty of major awards. Then the high-paid superstars are put on brands like Kellogg’s, Sears and SC Johnson. 

    • Funny that you mention Chicago in this. Of all the places I’ve been in my ad career, Portland and Chicago were/are, by far, the toughest places to find work. Arriving in Chicago from Denver, I had big dreams about what N. Michigan Avenue held in store for me. I didn’t expect “a series of frustrations” to be the answer, but it was.

  3. A company in Portland that can’t find “awesome CD-level digital talent” isn’t looking hard enough. If they’re really searching for the right pedigree, they should say it in their casting calls.

    It’s also asinine to call Portland “remote” – even without many new jobs opening up, every three to four years the city expands by 10%. W+K may like to think they’re a big company in a pioneer stumptown, but more and more young talent is moving to their neck of the woods solely for the experience of living there, rather than the for outside possibility of working for W+K.

    To your comment, David, about Portland being terribly difficult to break into: I agree. As such, my wife and I relocated from Portland to Boise, where the industry is a lot more receptive to outsiders with talent. We met with a number of CD’s and now work for different ad firms here in town. Luck played a huge role, but I’d take my current situation (in a much more “remote” location) over working retail in Portland any hour of the day.

    • Right on, Joel. Thanks for sharing your story.

      When I couldn’t get the break I was looking for in Portland in 1995 (the first time I moved here and knocked on W+K’s door), I ended up finding it in Salt Lake City.

      I, like you, am grateful for Adlandia’s more remote outposts.