TV commercial uses bikes to promote downtown Portland

“The whole biking movement is really a part of who we are as a city…it was a no-brainer for us.”
— Chris Finks, executive director of the Downtown Marketing Initiative on why they chose to feature bicycles in their TV ad campaign.

As several Portlanders pedal peacefully down the middle of downtown streets (one of them with a child in a Dutch “bakfiets” cargo bike), the words, “Is Portland the most European city? Or is Europe the most Portlandian continent?” flash across the screen.

The commercial (watch it below) is part of the Downtown Marketing Initiative that was launched by Mayor Tom Potter back in 2006. The ad has already been shown locally on all the major TV networks and some cable channels and several readers have emailed and called me with excitement about it.

According to Chris Finks, executive director of the Downtown Marketing Initiative, the bike-themed ad is part of a $1 million promotional campaign to encourage folks to visit and shop in downtown Portland.

Asked why they decided to feature bicycles in the ad, Finks told me that he and his staff, “wanted to show something that featured the Portland psyche, which has a lot to do with alternative forms of transportation.” He also said that they feel the “whole biking movement is really a part of who we are as a city” and that, “it was a no-brainer for us.”

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Finks says the DMI spent about $175,000 to buy ad time for the commercial and that it’s one of several different ad spots produced by Portland-based agency, North. Of all the ads, Finks says he’s gotten the most feedback (all of it positive) on the bike-themed one.

One reader, Dave F., like it so much he got Finks to send it to him on DVD. Dave also couldn’t wait for it to be posted online, so he filmed it from his television and sent me the clip below. Here’s the ad (without sound and from a recording, see a larger version here):

Have you seen the ad? What do you think?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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15 years ago

I love the ad. But then I’m also charmed by the pedaling videos that follow it when you click the “More” button. I’m on my lunch break and it’s a bit like going for a ride from my desk!

Duncan Watson
15 years ago

I love the ad. If anyone finds an online version with sound let me know. I want to show my wife.

Todd Boulanger
15 years ago

It was a great surprise to see it during the early AM TV time 1 week ago…especially coming from a dowtown business group. I thought I was dreaming…but I have seen it a few more times 😉

15 years ago

Good initiative, hope they keep it up!

If you want, I can answer the posed question 🙂

15 years ago

North said they plan on posting it online at their website ( at some point, but said it may take a while. Once I get the DVD from the Downtown Marketing Initiative, I’ll check with them and see if they would give me the ok to post it somewhere.

If you like the pedaling videos following the ad, keep checking in there (, I’m sure to continue adding more 🙂

15 years ago

Downtown needs to get rid of the tweakers then maybe I would go down there more. I used to live in Memphis TN which is always on the 10 worst cities for crime to live in and I felt safer downtown there.

15 years ago

Nothing like shots of empty streets with cyclists riding down the center line to give an (in)accurate portrayal of Portland’s downtown.

15 years ago

It’s a cool idea, but Portland is not even close to European.=)

Chris Finks
15 years ago

Hello everyone!

I am so happy that your community is such a fan of the TV spot “Is Portland the Most European City?”. As you know, the spot depicts bicycles in various parts of downtown. We are proud of all of our spots, but especially gratified by the interest in the “bike” spot.

Your kind comments make my job very gratifying above and beyond the pleasure of promoting the vitality of one of the best downtowns in existence! I know that I speak for my entire team on that. Of course, biking is part of our culture and the vitality and vibe of Portland which to us made it a “natural” part of our messages supporting downtown.

Thanks to North, our spots are now on our website: I hope that you all enjoy!

My best wishes for a wonderful holiday season to everyone in your community and their families!

In gratitude,

Chris Finks, Executive Director
Downtown Marketing Initiative