I recently made a trek to the Pacific Northwest for a handful of meetings in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. Aside from a minor disappointment in PDX’s recent replacement of their carpet, the trip was a great success.
Portland is a city filled with brands that stem from and cater to local outdoor enthusiasts and their active lifestyles, and many of the local agencies work with these brands to help them develop and execute creative projects of all shapes and sizes. I was fortunate to meet with both the brands and their agencies, which allowed me to acquire an interesting perspective on both sides of the coin.
After a long day of traveling with a quick layover in Minneapolis, I arrived and walked out of the airport into 85-degree sunny weather. I had the evening to orient myself to the city, take in some sights, and enjoy the culture. I felt like a local by enjoying a soy curl burrito at Los Gorditos, window shopping at West End Bikes, and admiring the gigantic bike lanes on a stroll near my hotel.
The next morning began at the biggest name in town, Nike. Nike’s sprawling campus is a short drive from Portland in neighboring Beaverton, Oregon. After contemplating parking in Michael Jordan’s reserved spot, I found a shady spot to leave my ride while I met with Nike’s global brand imaging art producer and production coordinator, both of which report to Nike’s director of creative production. We discussed how they handle the global brand campaigns that often set the tone for the brand as a whole, while they rely on their agencies and other teams internally to manage national, regional and local projects in particular product segments.
After driving back to Portland’s Pearl district, I grabbed a quick bite before my meeting at Keen, another prominent footwear brand in town. I met with their director of creative development, as well as their director of creative services. We discussed their expanding customer base in Japan, and how they could leverage our network of photographers/directors there and around the world as well as they continue to grow. Like Nike, they handle many projects in-house, and we discussed partnering as a creative services outlet for them on a wide range of projects, especially those involving editorial-style projects that are narrative driven, in multiple locations.
From there, I was off to the agency North for a meeting with their art producer. In addition to a strong push for new business, North was busy with a shoot in Alaska for Columbia Sportswear, and we discussed our production capabilities in great detail.
My day wrapped up with a meeting at Leopold Ketel, and considering the amazing weather, their production manager and I took the meeting across the street for a few drinks outside. We had previously corresponded about a project for Atrio Health Plans, so it was a nice opportunity to catch up about the status of that project/client. We also discussed how they operate as a relatively small agency with a large roster of freelancers that they pull in for various projects, most recently with a focus on animation and graphic design, in addition to photography.
I took in some more sights that evening on a quick walk along the waterfront, and my next day started early with a quick visit to Blue Star Donuts to pick up some treats for a meeting at Wieden+Kennedy. I had recently worked with their New York City office on a project for their client, Bud Light, and this was an excellent opportunity to fill their main office in on our capabilities as well. I gave a capabilities presentation to their art production team which was well received and discussed a recent project they did for KFC, a client we’ve also coordinated projects for as well.
From there, I gave W+K’s giant beaver a high five on my way out, and I was off to the airport for a long haul back to Philadelphia.
Overall, the meetings went very well, and it was a great opportunity to meet face to face with agencies and brands that we hope to collaborate with soon. Philadelphia can learn a thing or two from Portland’s bike culture, and while their donut game is fierce, I think Philadelphia still wins on that front.