It Could Be Worse, You Could Be in Detroit

Imagine trying to recruit a top creative talent to work at a Detroit ad agency right around now. "Look, Sid, Detroit's got everything: it's a vibrant city with a booming economy. It has mild winters, the NFL's best team and, to top it all off, traditional advertising is just bursting at the seams. What's not to love, Sid?"

Now, that conversation may have worked in 1957, but could you imagine trying to lure anyone with a modicum of talent to the Motor City today? What would the recruiter really say, "This is ground zero for the recent economic meltdown and we're damn proud of that fact. Sid, you can be an integral part of a quarter-century of precipitous rack and ruin. Imagine the stories you can tell your grandchildren!"
I cannot imagine what it must be like living and working in Detroit right now. Campbell-Ewald, which has represented Chevrolet since before the flood, just slashed 100 jobs. And, get this, if Chrysler goes belly up, Detroit-based Omnicom ad agencies will be left holding the bag for some $80 million in media buys. Talk about a head-on collision. 

Even if the government does come to the Big Three's rescue with a bailout, who'd want to work there? Detroit's proven it can't innovate, its legion of remaining executives still see rebates as their overarching marketing strategy and an entire generation of car buyers equate American-made automobiles with shoddy workmanship.

Still, if the bailout does come, the automakers will start spending money again and the recruiting calls will follow. "Sid, baby. Work with me here. We need a guy with your skills and creative juices. And, besides, when you're in Detroit and working on a car account, there's literally nowhere to go but up. Put in a few years here in Detroit and, I promise, Sir Martin or someone will move you to a real market where you can work on clients that actually make quality products. Hey, we'll even throw in an overcoat, snow shovel and food stamps. Whaddya say, kiddo?"

5 thoughts on “It Could Be Worse, You Could Be in Detroit

  1. This really is a sad situation for the ol’ mitten.
    I was born in Detroit and spent my first 18 years plotting an escape plan. I watched the place go from bad to really bad
    to… this (I don’t think the English language has created a word to describe the extremity of “this”).
    The city is self-destructing and it’s a total shame to watch, considering its potential. It has incredible architecture, beautiful international waters and thee most dedicated football fans imaginable. Unfortunately, a few crooks and industrial stagnation created a downward spiral that is proving itself irreversible.
    Three things need to happen:
    1. A thorough governmental cleansing;
    2. The selling of some innovative American cars;
    3. Ford Sr. selling those Lions.
    But, we’ve been crying about all three for years…
    I simply put my white flag up and moved to Charleston for college.

  2. PR Week actually published a feature not too long ago about the Detroit Travel & Tourism Board’s public relations program. Talk about a tough sell. “Hey Hon. I was thinking. Let’s grab the kids and do something totally outrageous, spontaneous and fun. How about a week in Detroit?”

  3. Poor Detroit. This is a city that can’t tear down the Packard plant or find a real tenant for it, a mere 52 years after Packard went out of business. But, hey, we’re only talking about 3.5 million square feet of manufacturing space, give or take.

  4. Nice partnership ideas, Lunchboy. The Toyota spots haven’t bugged me nearly as much as that horrible jewelry commercial with the girls texting one another. Have you seen it? Nauseating. As is any and all Christmas music. Bah, humbug.

  5. Well, maybe the former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick (is he Irish?), could buy some of that media on the cheap. Then, with his creative ways, he can coax the ad folks to throw in some creative for free. This will surely improve his reputation.
    The “endangered three” should seek out partnership opportunities with Kilpatrick and whoever else goes down in that sad city. It will be a real lose-lose-lose.
    On a semi-related note, has the “Toyotathon of all Toyotathons” commercial begun to irritate you yet as much as “Saved by Zero” jingle?