Jerry Ketel: Conductor

During Monday’s snowmageddon, Jerry Ketel, President of Leopold Ketel & Partners and the Portland Ad Fed took time out from answering an RFP to meet with me in the well appointed lobby of his “idea studio.”
Ketel has an infectious laugh and a sense of ease about him. He’s also full of big ideas. He talked to me about creating social memes, how Facebook is huge in China (a communal society) and how I’m at the nexus between advertising, PR and social media. Needless to say, the man had my full attention.
At one point in the conversation, the topic turned to craft. Here’s what Ketel said about the topic on his blog last summer:

One big influence in the NW is the commitment to craft. Portland especially has a long history of craftsmanship from log cabins to glassblowing and calligraphy. This has informed all the artists of the NW, especially the painters and designers of the last half of the 20th century to the musicians, food artisans and yes, designers of today. Maybe it’s the rainy weather that drives us to work our obsessions or maybe it’s the coffee, either way, we like doing what we do and we enjoy polishing the details like the craftsmen (and women) of yesterday.

I asked Ketel if he ever feels his shop is operating in Wieden’s shadow. He said no. “They’re them. I’m me.” He added that while W+K isn’t part of the local ad community, Dan Wieden, the man, is.
Ketel also told me interesting stories about his partner, Jaime Leopold. Leopold used to be the bass player for Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. He also used to drive a cab in San Francisco. When he returned to Portland, he began selling jingles door-to-door and realized he could make a go of it in advertising. The rest is history–Leopold & Ray, the predecessor to LKP, has been operating since 1991 1981. In July of 1996, when LPK formed the agency moved in to its lovingly restored railway building in Portland’s Old Town district.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.