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With your help, this was easily the best day of my professional career, and also one of the best moments in my personal life. I will never forget it.

Will Alempijevic
General Manager, Portland Meadows

Portland Meadows racetrack had been hidden in plain sight for years.

Situated along the I-5 corridor, its enormous building had been a staple on the Portland landscape since 1946, but almost no one really knew about it. Most thought it was a dog track, or that it had closed, or both. When they came to us for help in February of 2012, it was a last ditch effort to spark interest in not only the track, but in horse racing in general. 

But what makes horse racing special, unique and relevant now?

1 HORSE RACING LOOKS THE SAME NOW AS IT DID 100 YEARS AGO.
2 IF ANY BRAND CAN LEGITIMATELY USE A HORSESHOE AS AN ICON, IT'S A HORSE TRACK.
3 EVERYONE LIKES TO FEEL LUCKY.

When experimenting with a new logo, It made sense to use a horseshoe. Classic, iconic and relevant, it visually speaks to both horses and to luck. We also put their original opening year right in there, too, so people would know they were dealing with a piece of Portland history.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let us start at the beginning.

Will Alempijevic came to us needing not only a complete re-brand, including a logo, collateral, website, interiors, and exteriors, but he also wanted a city-wide advertising campaign to showcase the 2012 summer season of live horse racing, and also an opening day event to kick things off with a bang.

And he needed it all done in 2 months time. 

Yikes.

Fueled by a mix of excitement and over-confidence, we said yes before we ever set foot in the building itself.

Upon our first visit, we questioned what we just signed up for. Things were a little bleak and disparate throughout, and clearly there was a lot of work to be done.

While standing in his office, we came across a simple, modest oil painting of a jockey sitting on a horse at a track. It was pleasant, and we were all admiring it.

Will noticed our collective fascination with the painting and said, "Oh, you like that painting? I have about a hundred of those in storage."

We were floored.

We knew that we had to use these for something, but it wasn't yet clear exactly what that was.

Then it hit us:

USE THEM FOR EVERYTHING.

Combined with the phrase, "It's Your Lucky Day," the opening date and their shiny new logo, we ran with the paintings on everything we could—billboards, print ads, bus ads, web banners and more.

The paintings made their way onto every piece of printed collateral.

In working on the building itself, our goal was to clean things up just enough—we didn't want to sterilize things or alienate the audience that has been going there for years. We wanted to embrace the seedy underbelly.

We simplified the color palette overall, and added their new mark to the exterior. We used wayfinding signage as moments for personality, and we hung as many of the paintings that were in storage along the walls that flanked the entrance. 

It worked—seasoned locals and newcomers alike responded well to the changes.

Instagram Horserace

Beyond the usual channels for advertising, we came up with an Instagram™ horserace that anyone could play. We made 8 unique toy horses with jockeys and stashed them around town in various Portland establishments—if you found one and instagrammed it with the appropriate hashtag, you could win a $50 betting voucher to be used on Opening Day. People loved it, and horse number 3 won.

Opening Day

Opening day was a big hit. In recent years, the average attendance was around 500 people on any given opening day, but after our branding and campaign efforts, a little over 4000 people came through their doors—the most they had seen in over 30 years.

Things went so well with the first year that we have continued to work with Portland Meadows on their campaigns every year since. See the newest work in our Selected Works section.

We hired a swing jazz band to play old-timey tunes in between the races (otherwise it would spook the horses), had bartenders making Mint Juleps and Pimm's Cups, and hosted a VIP tent. Sam Adams, Portland's mayor at the time, came out for a ribbon cutting ceremony and to enjoy the festivities. 

A good time was had by all.

Deliverables:
  • Re-branding
  • Logo Marks
  • Copywriting
  • Art Direction
  • Creative Direction
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Campaign Strategy
  • Brand Positioning
  • Interiors
  • Wayfinding
  • Signage
  • Event coordination
  • Media Buying
  • Media Planning
Special thanks to:

Justin Riede
Sign Painter

Chris Mueller
Photographer

Connie Wohn
Event Planner

Dan Root
Photographer