'Portlandia,' anyone? Seattle says to Put a Plane on It
The historic rivalry between the two Pacific Northwest cities goes back at least as long as they have shared an affection for dripping trees, liberal politics, flannel shirts and an urgent concern for such matters as bike lanes, pedigreed food and seasonally migrating fish.
Don't even get them started on the Seattle Sounders vs. the Portland Timbers soccer teams. About a year ago, Portland erected a "Portland, Oregon--Soccer City USA 2011" billboard half a mile from Qwest Field in Seattle.
That was before Portland managed to score its own TV show. IFC's "Portlandia," a series of gentle and humorous riffs on Granola Town South, has both captivated and irritated Seattleites, who love the show but can't figure out why Portland got one and they didn't.
Hence the debut of Seattle's newest Internet campaign: "Put a Plane on It."
Those who've watched "Portlandia" will remember the "Put a Bird on It" bit about how sticking birds on things -- lampshades, tote bags, whatever -- will make them "pretty" and "free" and other attributes attractive to Portlanders.
IFC launched a "Put a Bird on It" website that allows anyone so inclined to impose a bird image on the website of their choosing ("In Portland, you can put a bird on something and just call it art," it explains.) Can't really picture it? Here's what latimes.com looks like with a bird on it -- though come to think of it, the Oregonian would probably look better draped in a bird.
Was Seattle going to just sit back and watch Portland birds flutter across the Web? Uh uh. Why put a bird on it, Seattleites wondered, when you could put a plane on it?
Boeing-town's Put a Plane On It website offers visitors the opportunity to "bomb" the website of their choice with not only a big green Seattle plane, but a load of bright red bird bombs (no websites or birds are harmed during this endeavor, the site promises.)
"Up here in the Jet City, we do things a little cooler (not cute) and faster (not feathery). They say, "You can put a bird on anything and call it art." But PUT A PLANE ON IT, and it goes supersonic!," the website's founders, Lila Hurwitz and Daniel Doolittle, said in a press release.
"There's always been a Portland-Seattle rivalry. But for us it's not mean-spirited at all. We love them! It's all in good fun -- we're not out to start any turf wars," Hurwitz, a Seattleite who used to live in Portland and still kind of misses it, told the Times.
That said, why should they miss the chance, especially when provoked by birds, to draw attention to Seattle's "forward-thinking entrepreneurialism, and progress?" Put a plane on it.
When will it end? When the rain stops? Or will someone from outside the Northwest have to step in with yet another website? Try this, "Portlandia": Put a Lid on It.
-- Kim Murphy in Seattle
Photo: Seattle's new Put a Plane on It website. Video: "Put a Bird on It" segment from IFC's show, "Portlandia"