2021: A Look Back

Despite the slog thanks to that pesky pandemic, it’s clear to us that the past 12 months reaffirmed our industry’s professional chops. It’s also evident that the Pacific Northwest is ready to lead the charge and be the change that marketing needs.
But, before we look ahead, we want to look back at each month in 2021 and how it shaped ThinkNW.
January: Fare Thee Well, PAF (1906-2021)

Sunsetting a 115-year-old organization isn’t a move that is taken lightly. But it had to be done. As much as PAF had given Portland’s creative industries over the years, it was time to move ahead with a bolder vision—one that is more durable and addresses the entirety of the marketing ecosystem in the region.
There are some truly legendary and globally influential brands, agencies, and companies here. Bringing them together is a signal to the world that the Pacific Northwest is a place where people can and should do business. This isn’t some quirky hamlet tucked away in a far-off corner of the world. This is the frontier of forward-thinking people united in a mission to do some good.
What’s heartening is that everyone (save one salty ex-pat) supported this move. From PAFs foundation grows something bigger that will benefit more people than ever before.
March: Expansion into Seattle

We may have our differences (i.e., Timbers vs. Sounders and Blazers vs. Sonics from back in the day), but we have far more in common. In March, we earnestly put the needle on the record to start building our presence in Seattle.
This included recruiting five board members and bringing on four corporate partners, including Alaska Airlines, C+C, and TDW+Co.
April: Amazon partnership

Sometimes, the most incredible partnerships are born from serendipity and simplicity. It started with a phone call from Susan Franceschini, the long-tenured executive director of ThinkLA, our friends and partners down south.
“I know someone from Amazon that would like to speak to you,” she said.
And from that one phrase became a partnership committed to growing diverse talent in the Pacific Northwest. Soon, you’ll see the fruits of that labor with ThinkNW’s Talent Acceleration Program (TAP). TAP is not a typical jobs board. It is the next generation of connecting talent with brands that understand how diversity, equality, and inclusion drive the business forward for all.
SUMMER: ThinkNW Diversity Summit & Best of the West

Who says nothing happens in the spring, leading into summer? Sure, the lure of warm days, early Fridays, and late day sun are enticing, but we had work to do.
In May, we presented the first ThinkNW Diversity Summit. Each session was jam-packed with real, relevant, and actionable insight—touching on topics including hiring, pipeline development, operationalizing DEI, and more (link to: https://thinknw.org/blog/thinknw_diversity_summit_21).
That month, we also partnered with our friends at ThinkLA, sfBIG, and LVIMA for our first-ever Best of the West, half-day session. Each org touched on a relevant topic in their region, and the result was a dynamic, educational, and fun few hours.
The feedback was so good; we did it again in the fall.
September – ThinkNW Open

Most of us have likely been to a golf event at some point in our careers. But the first ThinkNW Open in Portland was something truly special.
First, let’s face it, it was nice to be among our friends, members, and partners in person. And we were thrilled that so many made it down from Seattle.
What made this event so great was that it had a true Pacific Northwest vibe. A fun course, fantastic food and music, and some of the best auction items we’ve seen in a while (we’re looking at you, Alaska Airlines tickets).
In the end, this was the most successful fundraising event in the history of this organization. Over ($) was raised for ThinkNW programs, supporting independent agencies and small businesses in the region.
December – ThinkNW Marketing All-Stars

Any time a new organization starts, there is an opportunity to create new traditions. We launched the ThinkNW Marketing All-Stars program in December, recognizing next-level talent from brands, agencies, and other organizations.
Just about every corner of our region was covered, including Southern Oregon and British Columbia.
And the trophy? It definitely has a Pacific Northwest vibe.
But most importantly, we started a new tradition that we intend to grow next year. This includes recognizing the next generation of great talent and, fingers crossed, an in-person celebration in 2022.
We are pretty happy with how 2021 went, all things considered. That said, we have big things planned for 2022, and we can’t wait to show you what we are working on for you.
Thank you to all of you for your support, and we’ll see you soon!

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