Creativity with architects and playing cards: An inspired inter-professional marketing initiative

Notkin Mechanical Engineers engaged with local architects to create an impressive art (and relationship-building) collection with enduring value

Notkin Mechanical Engineers in Seattle solved a significant business challenge with a marketing initiative that rightly deserved the “Best of Show” in the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Marketing communication awards.

Notkin had lost touch with many friendly architects over the past 20 years, transitioning from a practice heavily based in architectural clients to one that was largely based in institutional clients.

The solution:

For Notkin?s 65th?Anniversary, we engaged 54 architecture firms from the Pacific Northwest in a collaborative reimagining of a playing card deck.? Firms from around our region provided original artwork based on a randomly selected playing card that we assigned.? In return for their participation, we threw a party (an ?Artwork Unveiling? to showcase the original artwork), produced playing card decks to distribute freely, and produced a coffee table book with the story of each firm?s artwork (distributing one to each participating firm and offering them for purchase with proceeds benefitting charity).

This to me seems to be a mammoth challenge — getting 54 architectural firms to participate. But then again, it wasn’t asking much; Notkin might be nuts-and-bolts (or perhaps more accurately valves and pipes) mechanical engineer, but it was seeking to connect with the creative architectural side of the AEC community.

The results of the campaign were truly impressive, and certainly made the effort worthwhile.

The campaign generated just over 500 new industry contacts; increased our social media followers by 213; and helped setup pursuits with ten firms we had not worked with recently, including several wins and several very large pursuits that are still in progress.


The coffee table book and playing cards could in themselves be seen as gimmicks, but the way the project took shape and the engagement/involvement of so many architects undoubtedly resulted in a true interactive and lasting marketing success.

Here is the page with the individual architectural contributions.

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