Debut Ads Take Portland Tribune ‘Closer to Home’

The fledgling twice-weekly Portland Tribune burst onto the local scene last week with a flurry of ads that mark the Oregon city’s shift to a two-newspaper town.

Created by local shop JohnsonSheen Advertising, the work includes TV, print and transit ads all tagged “Closer to home.”

The positioning is meant to differentiate the Tribune from the main paper, The Oregonian, said creative director Mike Sheen, who worked on the latter’s account at Cole & Weber in the early ’90s. “The big difference with the Tribune is its focus is just on Portland,” he said. “There’s not any national news.”

Tribune publisher Don Olson said the tag also underscores that the broadsheet is delivered for free.

One TV spot, in 60- and 30-second versions, depicts a woman jogging in the city as still shots and headlines reveal the stories behind those she passes. As she passes a dog, for instance, viewers see shots of the dog attacking a postal worker, and the headline “Cops crack down on leash laws.”

This technique of combining stills and action shots is borrowed from the 1999 thriller Run Lola Run. “It’s a neat visual technique that told the story really quickly,” said Sheen.

Transit ads feature lines such as “No lurid, personal details on our national leaders. Just the local ones.” Print ads in the Tribune show images such as an old woman in curlers hitting her ceiling with a mop; a news headline reads, “Local tap dancer prepares for big Broadway debut.”

JohnsonSheen had only 10 weeks to develop the ads. “I think the urgency brought to [JohnsonSheen] got their attention 100 percent,” said Olson. “They committed everything they had to it, and they delivered integrity, depth and budget,” which was roughly half a million dollars.

TV ads will air in Portland through March 25; print and outdoor will appear throughout the year. The paper launched Feb. 9, claiming a circulation of 150,000.