Betti Fujikado

Betti Fujikado • Written January, 2020

Creativity and Commerce. CEO and Soccer Mom. Giving Space and Taking Space. Betti Fujikado’s life has been about embracing the dichotomies. She entered the University of Washington as an art major and finished as a business major. She began her career as a CPA at Price Waterhouse Coopers and, for the past 22 years, has been co-founder/CEO at the 22-year old Seattle advertising agency, Copacino+Fujikado.

Betti has held roles from CFO to COO to CEO in a variety of industries. She’s worked at startups, publicly held companies, consultancies, turnarounds and in mergers and acquisitions. She has had the privilege of working for and with outstanding leaders, including Michael G. Foster (yes, the University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business) of whom she is an ardent admirer for his high values, even beyond his incredible business success.

Many would view Betti as a late bloomer. First marriage at 40. Twin daughters at 41. At 42, started Copacino+Fujikado with Chief Creative Officer, Jim Copacino. Jim and her husband, Dereck Soo, are the extroverts to Betti’s introvert. Her twin daughters, Linnea and Alissa, are 23-year-old strong thinkers, believers in their roles for a better world and challenge Betti’s Baby Boomer attitudes.

Betti’s partnership with Jim Copacino, a fellow MARKETING IMMORTAL, has been her career-defining relationship. Jim, whose renowned career brought instant credibility to their founding, still agreed to 50/50 ownership. He also made the unilateral decision to rename the agency Copacino+Fujikado because, in his mind, Betti wasn’t getting enough attention. Together, they have had the privilege of working with the Seattle Mariners and Premera Blue Cross, each for 22 years, and for Seattle Children’s Hospital, Symetra and Seattle Aquarium for well over 10 years. Betti and Jim are equally grateful for the many other outstanding clients on the agency’s roster. C+F’s regional and national brands include, or have included, REI, Visit Seattle, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Holland America Line. C+F’s success has not gone unnoticed. Two times over the past six years, the agency has won Gold (2013) or Silver (2019) in Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year for the Northwest region.

Throughout her career, Betti has frequently been the only woman of color in the room. Still, she has been determined to be heard. As Jim has said, “Sometimes to our irritation, but always to our benefit, Betti speaks her mind.” One of few Seattleites born in Seattle, Betti’s grandparents immigrated from Japan and her grandfather owned a jewelry store on Jackson Street. Her grandparents and parents were incarcerated at Camp Minidoka, Idaho, during World War II. As a result, two important nonprofits to Betti are The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience and Densho, an organization dedicated to preserving and sharing history of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. Betti is determined to use her voice to advocate for diversity and inclusion in Seattle and the advertising community.

From 2009 to 2018, Betti served as a Trustee at Western Washington University, where her eyes were opened to today’s issues in higher education by its faculty, administration and, especially, its students. Their dedication and activism have been inspiring. So much so that higher education and access for first-generation students remain a priority with Betti.

She has been recognized as a Puget Sound Business Journal “Woman of Influence,” honored as one of 2018’s “50 Outstanding Asian Americans in Business” by the New York City Asian American Business Development Center and just last year was awarded the AAF Silver Medal for her contributions to the Seattle advertising industry. 

A final Jim quote: “Betti always wears black, but she thinks in technicolor.” Her response: “It makes dressing in the morning faster and the work more fun.”


It is an honor to join this esteemed group. I admire all the MARKETING IMMORTALS who preceded me, but it’s a special honor to be named among its women and two people of color, Rita Brogan and Tracy Wong.

I thought long and hard about the opportunity and responsibility that this platform provides. Do I thank the people who got me here? Do I give a history of my career arc or, better yet, its rollercoaster ride? Do I really have any advice to offer? (Even at my age, the imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.) After reflecting, I decided to thank my allies through the years and encourage those who read this to activate their “allyship.”

A Dad with four daughters

Kei Fujikado had four very different daughters. They all were smart and capable, but, like in The Breakfast Club, they were tagged the pretty one, the nerd, the sweet one and the jock. Yup, I was the nerd. He was our biggest supporter, forever fan and believed I could do anything. His dream, like those of many Asian parents, was that I would go to law school. Yes, for the prestige, but also because I argued so much. I didn’t listen, and his proudest moment may have been to see his last name associated with the Seattle Mariners as The Seattle Times talked about the team’s 2002 advertising campaign that Copacino+Fujikado produced.

"We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists.

We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology.

Our potential is unlimited. We rise."

- Alicia Keys from the 2017 Women’s March

A business law professor whose name I’ve forgotten

I remember writing a paper my senior year in college, inspired and totally in the flow of writing and research. The professor commended my work and, unsolicited, encouraged me to go to law school and use him as my guide. I remember he was a Harvard Law School graduate, so I was duly impressed. The time he took to write that note gave me confidence in my critical-thinking skills and voice. I just wish I could remember his name to thank him.

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it,

I am not going to be silent.”

—Madeleine Albright

“She won’t succeed.”

A successful top executive leaned back in his leather chair one day in 1980, took a puff on his cigar and announced to his (male) acolyte, “Betti will never be successful. She doesn’t understand how to make small talk.”  Sound farfetched? Remember, this was my 1980 reality; we were closer to Mad Men than business today.

An ally? No. Good advice? Absolutely.

Rather than taking the time for small talk as we began meetings, I tended to get right down to the business at hand. I was a believer in “time is money.” (Patience, as many of you may know, isn’t my greatest virtue. I’m working on it.)

I now define small talk as the time you take to get to know someone and begin the long process of building trust. I’ve gotten better at it. As an introvert, I wouldn’t call it a skill of mine, but I respect its importance.

“A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”

                                                                —Eleanor Roosevelt

Welcomed to the boys’ club

Throughout my career, I’ve frequently been the only woman in the room. I’ve been asked to get coffee, make copies and belligerently asked to be “open kimono” in negotiations. I’ve also been intently listened to, asked for my perspective and commended for my ideas. Let’s all stand up against the former and do more of the latter.

To thank an important few…

Craig Kobayashi and Jim Penny, who made me feel like a critical part of a triad to set up a business for one of the most successful restaurants in Hawaii. They listened to me. They argued with me. They treated me as an equal in the making of the deal.

Mike Foster (yes, that Mike Foster, namesake of the Michael G. Foster School of Business the UW), who stepped up when I was doing a turnaround for one of his investment groups. I felt respected and supported as he stood behind me in my decisions—sometimes contrary to the rest of his investors.

Dennis Madsen, former CEO of REI; Howard Lincoln, former CEO of the Seattle Mariners; and Phil Sharpe, Adelstein Sharpe & Serka, who welcomed me to the Board of Trustees at Western Washington University with open arms and ears. I am forever grateful for all your mentoring, without ever making me feel as though I was a lesser Trustee.

 “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”

                                                                         —Melinda Gates

Ask for what you’re worth in establishing your business (in this case, 50%)

Doug Klan was our tax advisor at C+F. He gave me the most valuable advice: “Your tendency will be to ask for less than 50%. Don’t do it. You’ll work equally hard. You’ll contribute 50%. You’ll earn it.”

I asked for 50%. Jim Copacino agreed. The rest is a 22-year old history, during which we never had a losing quarter.

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live.”

  • Mae Jemison, Engineer and NASA Astronaut


A Dad with twin daughters

Having a father as the primary caregiver is nothing unusual for my daughters. When they entered fifth grade, their father Dereck Soo, stepped back from his full-time job at Xerox to take primary responsibility for their well-being during the work day. He still worked part-time, but was there for pick-up, drop-off and after-school activities. Like my Dad was for me, he’s been their supporter, fan and believer they can do anything. He’s also carried on my father’s legacy and been my supporter, fan and believer I can do anything, too.

“Of course, I am not worried about intimidating men.

The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”
―Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Ally named Jim Copacino

Jim agreed to 50% ownership. And he insisted on changing the name to Copacino+Fujikado. We’ve run the agency as equals. We’ve fought as equals. And we’ve always been able to reach a negotiated settlement.

As we sunset on our run as agency leaders, I’m grateful for his advocacy. He had the name. He had the successful career in advertising. He believed in me and gave me the chance. I’m grateful and think I’ve given as much as I’ve gotten.

“Women are leaders everywhere you look—from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company

to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household.

Our country was built by strong women, and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes.”

                                                                                —Nancy Pelosi

A few final words

I did a little Internet searching while writing this and found this anonymous, open-source Guide to Allyship (, written by a “cisgender black woman” (her words) who wrote:

“To be an Ally is to…

Take on the struggle as your own.

Stand up, even when you feel scared.

Transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it.

Acknowledge that while you, too, feel pain, the conversation is not about you.

I’ve been fortunate to have these Allies help build my career. I encourage all of you to intentionally participate in your allyship. Here’s a final reference from Cornell that is a good, quick, starter read:

We will all benefit.

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.

                                         Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.”
                                                                  - Maya Angelou