Digital Marketing Spotlight: PORTLAND

Portland skyline sketch

Portland: home to the now-cliche “hipster,” now-touristy Voodoo donuts, and now-blooming hub for digital marketing.

Keeping up with my “Spotlight” series on brands that are doing some aspect of digital marketing right (if you missed it, here’s me gushing about Kate Spade’s twitter + instagram campaigns and Gap’s mobile marketing initiative), I wanted to highlight another champion of the digital marketing industry. In this case, however, instead of singing the praises of a specific brand, I’m giving a shoutout to my hometown, which is ONNNN POINT with its host of kick-ass digital marketing agencies. I’ll post some more specific introductions to a few that have done an especially good job of standing out from the pack, but right now I’m drawing emphasis to the Portland region as a whole with its digital marketing efforts.

Digital marketing has met its match with Portland’s blend of creativity, youthfulness, and innovation.

It’s fueled by a contagious cocktail of talent, young energy, professionals who work their toned-bike-commuter butts off, quirky creativity, and maybe some really great sustainably-sourced coffee. It’s the work-hard-play-hard mentality. It’s the marriage of tried-and-true traditional marketing with the millennialist  emphasis on relationship, experience, and aesthetic/design. And it’s a sight more beautiful to behold than the mid-April Portland waterfront in bloom. (Okay, laying off with the overdone PDX references for real now.)

Pop Art, one such Portland-based agency (not to be confused with Lady Gaga’s lackluster 3rd album ARTPOP), explains the phenomenon in better words than I could:

 Pop Art’s home of Portland, Oregon has become one of the creative capitals of the United States. We’re home to exceptional interactive agencies on the cutting edge of modern digital marketing and interactive design.

Okay, digital marketing and design, we get it. But why is Portland actually distinct from other regions when it comes to the digital marketing industry?

 Portland’s history is steeped in the go-it-alone, do-your-own-thing, pioneer spirit. That translates directly into the modern makeup of the city. With our thriving arts, music, film and interactive scene, Portland has become a place where even the most “out-there” thinkers can find their niche and innovate in the global economy.


That’s the key: NICHES. NICHES NICHES NICHES NIETZSCHE NICHES. Digital marketing is geared around the long tail, the granular, the individual…and individualism is basically the altar upon which Portland worships. Not conceited individualism which only serves the self, but the overall concept of valuing and cultivating your own unique skillsets that can always be honed and improved to create something bigger than yourself. Not lazy individualism, but oh-you-think-you’re-cool-okay-then-do-something-with-it individualism. Individualism that ultimately ends up contributing to a team effort in some way or another.

The result of such a culture is an elite team of intelligent, savvy, forward-thinking individuals who are ever learning, ever creating, ever tweaking. And I want to be on one.

SO BADLY. I realize as a sophomore in college I haven’t exactly peaked professionally (I just finished building out my LinkedIn profile, for crying out loud), but I am doing everything I can to align myself now with that ultimate goal in order to make sure I can bring something worthwhile to the table and contribute meaningfully to a team that could use my own skillset. I thrive in the atmosphere of competition, camaraderie, and a permeating passion for the craft, and I would literally KILLLLL for that job. And by “literally” I mean figuratively kill myself getting there, of course.

I have a deep sense of belonging in the culture of Portland, in the industry of digital marketing, and in the work environment of a hip-and-happenin’ agency that’s constantly moving forward. And I have such a thirst to learn and absorb and simply be in that environment. (Any super-cool dig. marketing agencies out there need a starry-eyed intern? Will work for food.)

…welllll that escalated quickly. My b. Bottom line: Portland has got it goin’ on, and I’m way proud to call it home.




    • Thanks, Chris–that means a lot. Great job w/ your Portland design directory btw. :] looks like a great project!

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