When I ask digital / advertising people in the Pacific Northwest what agency is hot, they most often mention Portland’s digital agency Instrument. We all know that hot is a relative term but when I hear an agency’s name and “hot” come up often, I have to assume that something is up. Portland gets hot as we’ve been living with Wieden + Kennedy and their definition of the concept of hot for decades… with no end in sight. Even today’s white hot 72andSunny’s luminescence will dim in comparison if they can’t keep Samsung moving forward.
So, why is Instrument hot? It’s usually a combination of factors, but the secret ingredient is generally having cool clients that are currently hot in their own right and want to nail younger markets (OK, I’ll calm down on the temperature thing.)
In Instrument’s case, they list work for client’s like: Google’s search app (and Oscars, Olympics and March Madness work), Nike’s Fuelstream and Designedtomove.org which had its introduction at the Clinton Global Initiative, the Colors Campaign for Beats by Dre, and Red Bull #givesyouwings. Google, Nike, Red Bull and Dre. Not bad. The only possible issue I see is that there is a concentration in work for Nike and Google. Most agencies would be glad to take this, but client concentration, as in billings, can wind up being painful.
Oh, one more cool factor = the office. Being Portland, Instrument has a wide open space with a wooden TeePee — take that Brooklyn, NY! (Image and office tour at VSCO):
Bottom line? Instrument will be a very interesting agency to watch to see if it maintains its trajectory. They have clearly excited super brands and have gotten repeat business that bodes well for their creative and tech chops and client service (an element not to be underrated.)
My bet is that the key to Instrument’s success will be how to manage their growth with the need for building a diverse client base via a smart business development program and some needed national press. In this case, not being in Brooklyn hurts a bit. That said, it’s nice to watch Instrument kill it in Portland.
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