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?"