ThinkNW Marketing All-Star Profile: Michelle Cardinal, CEO and co-founder of Rain the Growth Agency

We’re pleased to announce our first class of ThinkNW Marketing All-Stars. Chosen by the ThinkNW board and executive team, this program kicks off a tradition of recognizing the unique marketing talent that drives our industry and region forward.

We asked our honorees to share a bit about their work, lives and what the Pacific Northwest means to them.

Here’s what Michelle Cardinal, CEO and co-founder of Rain the Growth Agency, had to say.

How long have you been in your current role?

I founded a media agency in 1998 in Portland called Cmedia and have been the CEO since day one. Later, that company merged with Respond2 Communications, a creative and production agency (founded by my husband, Tim O’Leary) to form R2C Group, which has since rebranded to Rain the Growth Agency. So 23 years later, I am proud to still be at the helm of an independent, full-service advertising agency–and still headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

What do you value most in your work in this role, and what do you consider your biggest accomplishment in your current role?

In 2018, I launched SheScales, a marketing program to assist female founders in scaling their companies fearlessly. SheScales supports early-stage DTC companies needing marketing consultation and early-stage business-building guidance.

The program has received over 100 applications. Recently ‘Office Hours’ were introduced as an opportunity for emerging female-founded companies to tap into agency resources for guidance on their marketing efforts at no cost. In 2020, 12 brands utilized the program. The SheScales program has been an enormous success; it allows employees at all levels to advise and consult clients and to expand their marketing and presentation skills. It’s also allowed them access to new and emerging brands that may one day be household names.

What do you like to do outside of your work?

I am passionate about giving back, understanding from whence I came. I sit on the board of Central City Concern and UMass Amherst Alumni Association, am a special advisor to several nonprofits on: homelessness, women’s issues, education, racial equity and the environment. I donate hundreds of hours annually, offering my marketing and fundraising expertise. Additionally, I am an active outdoor enthusiast, embracing all the PNW offers, including skiing, hiking, biking and wine.

What impact does the Pacific Northwest have on your work?

The Pacific Northwest has the perfect balance of so many things. We have vibrant agriculture and thriving commerce in this area, incredible access to outdoor activities, and disruptive entrepreneurism everywhere. On top of that, the organic growth that surrounds us in nature is so beautiful and inspiring.

How would you characterize the Pacific Northwest marketing/creative community? In your mind, what makes it unique?

The PNW marketing/creative community is vibrant, inspired, and growing. We have always had a very talented creative and production community here, and over the last 10 years, we have seen an influx of deep agency talent of all disciplines.

We are becoming the Madison Avenue of the West and thrilled to see the growth of a wide variety of agencies and marketers here. Also, we embrace organizations like ThinkNW that help us define our unique contributions to the advertising and marketing community nationally. I believe that everyone in this region deliberately chose to live here and draws inspiration from the natural beauty, endless bounties, and unique communities in which we operate.

See the full list of ThinkNW Marketing All-Stars here.

Related Articles