Rain On Me

Yesterday, I contributed 10 posts about Portland’s creative scene to The Portland Egotist, a temporary takeover of The Denver Egotist. It was a fun exercise for me. I wanted the special section to be an overview of the city, not the ultimate or final word. Yet, a couple Egotist readers made it known that I could have gone much further, offering deeper analysis and constructive criticism.
Thankfully, I have a place for just this sort of thing…
Eric J. said:

This place isn’t perfect. It would’ve been interesting to see you address Portland’s potential for improvement.

PDX said:

I appreciate the effort and concept – but I have to say I am a disappointed in the content. Portland has much more to offer and I felt the posts were standard and quite frankly, uninspired.
What makes Portland truly unique is the immense amount of talent outside of agencies, a system that supports, cultivates and appreciates the art behind design and advertising.

One of PDX’s other complaints: writing about Wieden was an easy out. I only made one post about W+K Radio, and any overview of Portland with no article about W+K would have been obviously neglectful. But to Eric’s point about how Portland might improve, it’s obvious that we do need to get beyond W+K. The way to do that isn’t hard to imagine–the boutique shops need to produce work that’s equally as seductive. Just like Minneapolis is so much more than Fallon, Portland needs to be so much more than W+K and frankly that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of everyone not working at Wieden (me included).
PDX’s point about the underlying creative infrastructure in Portland is well made. I touched on that in the first Egotist post, where Jerry Ketel recognizes the importance of a city of artisans. I’ve also lived in San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Portland is different and part of what makes it different is how intelligent the people in this city are. That intelligence is expressed in a myriad of ways, artisanal and otherwise. We have Powell’s Books, green buildings, bike lanes, a commitment to local and organic foods, unbelievable restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries, galleries, a thriving music scene and so on.
How does this cultural fabric impact the local marcom industry? In countless ways. On a daily basis we’re all reminded of how good simple things like coffee or beer or an acoustic set of music can be. We take that inspiration into work with us. Then there’s the more direct connection–artisans of every stripe working with the brands and agencies to make better ads.
Nike and Wieden grow well in this nutrient rich climate. So do The Decemberists, The Shins, Stumptown Coffee, Voodoo Dougnuts, Chuck Palahniuk and countless other enterprises that rate on a global scale. In ad circles, there are not countless expressions of global greatness. That’s a challenge, but it’s one I’m confident the most talented communicators in Portland can meet.
[UPDATE] To see a bit of Portland’s crazy sexy ways, take a peek at this performance by March Fourth Marching Band from the other night.



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.