Spotlight On NW Creative: Colaboratory

My grandpa used to ask me all the time, “What did you learn today?” Sometimes I didn’t have a good answer, but he expected one, big believer that he was in the daily quest for knowledge. If he were here today to ask me, I’d say I learned about this interesting internship program where 10 Portland ad agencies work together to school 10 students over six weeks and potentially benefit one high profile client.
The program is called Colaboratory and it is administered by Portland Ad Fed.

It might seem weird that a bunch of competing ad agencies would share interns and resources – but that’s just the kind of crazy thinking you see all the time in Portland. We love our city and the culture that thrives here. Because no matter who is working on what, at the end of the day we’re all meeting up for a drink to talk about it. Being competitive doesn’t mean being harmful. Just the opposite, in fact: We strive to make each other better and, by doing so, make Portland a better place to live, work and grow.

We strive to make each other better. That’s good copy. And it happens to be true. In fact, the word on Colaboratory came to me via fellow copywriter Mason West. West treated me to a grand tour of Ascentium today, and to his local German deli for sausage and beer. While returning from lunch in the hot sun, West mentioned his involvement in Collaboratory. I said, “What’s that?” and was instantly chided. “What kind of journalist are you?” West kidded.
To help me out, once back in the Ascentium office, West introduced to Jimmy Zimmerman, an ad student at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). I used to work with an entire regiment of SCAD-educated designers at BFG Communications in Hilton Head, so Zimmerman and I talked about that for a second and then he showed me what he’s been working on for Columbia Sportswear, Colaboratory’s sponsoring client this year.
I liked what I saw and if Columbia likes it too, we may all see it soon–on SlideShare and/or in actual support of the brand (although Butler Shine & Stern might have something to say about that).
While putting this post together, I noticed The Oregonian also wrote a feature on Colaboratory earlier this month. One item in the Oregonian piece that’s of interest is the fact that one of last year’s Colaboratory participants–Mary McPherson of Cal State Fresno–now works at The New Group in Portland. So, solid internships do pay off.



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.