We decided to own the narrative. We do get loud. We do speak up. We wouldn’t have it any other way so let’s show people the real Portland. It’s a city that has good, that has warts and that definitely has some quirks. It’s a city that stands up for human rights. Why would we apologize for that? All of that is Portland and we set out to highlight it.
As the world settled into the reality that COVID is around for the long haul, Portland had been painted with a Fox News fueled label as a city of anarchy. Our challenge was to bring tourism back to Portland—the proverbial heads in beds—but as a city that authentically has something to say, how do we say that it’s safe here without minimizing the voice of the city and its people?
The opening salvo was a full page letter in the New York Times. It grabbed attention almost immediately, in particular with the conservative news pearl-clutching crowd. We followed the letter with a film set to the same story. Once word was out that Portland was throwing open its arms to all visitors, we released a suite of six second videos, each highlighting a unique aspect of the city—and something concrete worth visiting for.
The campaign was a smash hit. It grabbed attention and it brought visitors back to the city. When Travel Portland wanted us to follow up for the fall and winter season, we set to update our template but tune it to a sensory based approach for more feeling based seasons. We shot new locations, all with a Feel the ___ message.
As an addition, we also brought in Matty Matheson and Alex 2tone of the Powerful Truth Angels podcast to co-create a tour of Portland for an episode of their show. The result was a hit list of some of Portland’s finest spots, seen through their somewhat askew lenses.
The new campaign was a hit too, raising tourism back to—and in some cases above—pre-pandemic levels as well as successfully changing the narrative on this city we all love.
A lot had been said in the media about Portland. Anarchy, chaos, Antifa, blah, blah, blah. To kick off the summer campaign, we felt like it was time for the people of this city to have a chance to speak up. And there are few bigger stages than the New York Times. We took out a full page ad and set out to set the record straight.
For the winter campaign, we knew we had a successful template but there were opportunities to tune and tweak. All signs pointed to an opportunity to add some editorial aspects, in particular a partnership with Matty Matheson and Alex 2Tone featuring all about the intersections and misconceptions that one can experience in a single afternoon in Portland, told in the way only those two can.
Another change we made for winter was to dial up the sensorial aspect of Portland—all five senses. To get people to want to come here, we had to show them what it feels like to be here. And as turns out, it feels great.