Getting Motown’s mojo back

November 17 - fabdetroit Five Detroit advertising agencies are donating their collective firepower to a year-long campaign aimed at attracting 'young and creative people' to consider Motown as a place to live and work. Underwritten by Time Inc., 'Assignment Detroit' also involves reporters and editors from Essence, Fortune, Money, Sports Illustrated, Time and related websites.

One marketing initiative involves a proposed web site to be called It will feature such Detroit success stories as Tim Allen and Kid Rock. Another campaign likens seeking job opportunities in Detroit to the crew that joined the explorer Ernest Schackleton in his brutal Arctic expedition. And, therein lies the problem.

Does a massive advertising and marketing campaign designed to attract young people to Detroit make sense when the infrastructure is still so badly broken?

I read somewhere that Detroit has 80,000 empty office buildings and warehouses. And yet, a local ad executive said of Detroit: 'Kids who are coming here find it the land of opportunity' in fields like music and film.' Could both facts be true?

I sincerely hope the Detroit campaign succeeds. But, how can any marketing campaign work when the product or experience is flawed? It's a classic chicken or egg conundrum. Do you spend serious bucks on advertising to attract people who will start businesses? Or, do you wait for the economy to show some signs of life first and then point to current successes, instead of making a vague promise about being part of a turnaround?

Time Inc. is to be saluted for its investment. Here's hoping I'll be able to file a blog in a year's time and say it worked.

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