"Visually speaking, we're a stripped-down version of Seattle," laments Jim Carey, creative director at Cole & Weber's 33-person Portland office. Carey is clearly talking about the no-frills office space and not the work, because, creatively speaking, the agency can afford to brag a bit these days. In the last three years it's grown from $7 million to $25 million and evolved from a shop that, according to Carey, once turned out "really nice b&w print" to one whose work is now at times "blissfully instinctive" and nearly 40 percent broadcast. Add to that the fact that last year was its best yet; C&W won a One Show Gold for a gritty b&w brochure for Klein bikes, and even added a trendy new client to its roster-London Underground, a U.S. distributor of Dr. Martens shoes, the only national account that has enhanced its visibility outside the Northwest. Though the $5 million Oregon Lottery is the shop's largest account, Klein's unglamorous shots of bikers caked with mud won a Northwest Addy, while the Docs print ads, seen in Esquire and Rolling Stone pack plenty of Gen-X appeal-as in an that boasts that Dr. Martens has been making running shoes for 30 years, over a photo of a bobby chasing a purse snatcher.
But it wasn't long ago that the agency suffered from the same creative inertia as its counterpart in Seattle, which resulted in a reshuffling of top management by Marshall and McNeely. In late 1990, they replaced GM Al Moffit with Debbie Kennedy, a former W&K client and marketing con sultant they'd met at the Oregon Lottery pitch. When CD Rob Rosenthal quit in early '91 to set up shop with Moffit, the pair hired Carey from Zechman & As sociates in Chicago. A native New Yorker who'd spent his 13- year ad career in Chicago, Carey spent seven years at Y&R writing for accounts like Durasoft lenses.
Today, C&W's Portland office keeps gathering speed right along with its Seattle sibling; other new $4-million-and-under regional clients include Bonnev ille Power, Now software, Tek tronix color printers, Salishan Properties, and a 200-mile bike race called the Cycle Oregon Double Century. (Typical head line: "If you smell something burning, don't worry. It's just your legs.") Together with its longtime newspaper account, The Oregonian, Carey brags that they're all clients who, "if they laugh at an ad we come up with, will probably run it instead of fig ure out a reason not to."
While Brihn may be shooting for the stature of an FM, Carey says the Portland office will set tle for Carmichael Lynch. "Like CM," he says, "here in Portland