Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Detroit on the mend: City takes the wraps off new campaign Previous Next
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Username: Schoolcraft

Post Number: 93
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 6:25 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Pretty much the National Magazine for the Travel Industry with pretty big Detroit article. Reading this paper for 20 years like I have had to its rare when Detroit gets any ink...let alone a reasonably good story(in my opin). Some new info in article(I know there are other threads on new Detroit ad campaign)
http://www.travelweekly.com/ar ticles.aspx?articleid=54955
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Username: Andylinn

Post Number: 313
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 6:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

i know this isn't kosher all the time, but in this case could you copy and paste the content here? i can't read the text...
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Username: Schoolcraft

Post Number: 95
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 6:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Detroit on the mend: City takes the wraps off new campaign (02/06/2007)

By Dan Luzadder

Photograph by DMCVB and the Downtown Detroit Partnership (skyline and riverfront).

(Editor's Note: Late last year, Business Editor Dan Luzadder was invited to attend confidential meetings and discussions with officials of Detroit's Convention and Visitor's Bureau and marketing consultants as they planned the final leg of a campaign to revive tourism in the long-troubled city. Details of the resulting branding and marketing campaign were made public for the first time last week at the CVB's annual meeting. This article offers a look at how the campaign developed and where Detroit is headed.)

DETROIT -- Night darkens the cityscape, the October air grows chilly and Chris Baum stands in front of his pricey seat along the third-base line with several reporters as Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez steps to home plate. It is the bottom of the ninth, the game tied, and there are two outs. Yet with two runners on base, the struggling Tigers -- almost unbelievably -- are only a hit away from sweeping their way to an American League pennant.

There is a sense of promise in the air, a palpable anticipation. The Oakland Athletics' pitcher bears down, intent on forcing extra innings and denying the Tigers what they, and hundreds of thousands of fans in the Motor City, have long prayed for: the team's first World Series berth in more than two decades.

There is a sense that this is more than just baseball. Baum would later characterize the Tigers' drive for the pennant as one in a string of changes symbolizing a revitalized Detroit. But at the moment, he is on his feet with thousands of other screaming fans.

On the second pitch, Ordonez takes a deep cut and the sound of wood on horsehide cracks through the stadium like a lightening bolt splitting oak. A deafening roar rises from packed Comerica Park as the ball soars over the fence into the left field stands, guaranteeing what the Tigers, and the city, are craving: Validation -- and a trip to the biggest show in baseball.

"How about that!" Baum yells as he turns to high-five a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times. "How about that!"

Baum is ear-to-ear grin, and for a newcomer to Detroit -- one who not very long ago was cheering the Boston Red Sox -- he couldn't be happier. The victory is nothing if not a good omen, he says. The Tigers are on the move.

And so is Detroit.

"It really feels like we're on a roll here," Baum says quietly as he files out into the noisy streets of downtown Detroit with other happy fans. But he has a lot more than the Tigers' victory in mind. The pennant splashes the Tigers' name and images across the front pages of every daily newspaper the next morning, providing another needed boost for Detroit. It seems to verify that things are indeed finally moving in the right direction for the city.

Remaking the brand

Two days later, Baum, recently named senior vice president of marketing for the Detroit Convention and Visitor's Bureau, along with his boss, CVB President Larry Alexander, helps lead the first of a series of crucial internal meetings to finalize decisions and make financial commitments to an innovative -- some would say radical -- new branding campaign for the city.

They are doing so by reviewing marketing recommendations in preparation for a major meeting the next day with the bureau's advertising firm, Berline, of Royal Oak, Mich. They work for more than two hours hammering out final guidelines in order to pick images, messages and strategies from Berline's creative team as part of a sweeping overhaul of the city's tourism marketing plan.

Eric La Brecque, a California-based brand consultant who helped shape a new identity for the Dearborn, Mich.-based Henry Ford Museum, has laid out a series of recommendations in a PowerPoint presentation that distill what Alexander and local stakeholders have been working on since late 2005: The branding of Detroit.

"What defines Detroit as urban cool?" La Brecque asks the dozen people gathered around a conference table, all of whom have contributed to the work in progress and are seeing the recommendations for the first time.

Patricia Moordian, president of the Henry Ford Museum and chair of a CVB economic advisory subcommittee that pushed to initiate the branding effort, quickly offers: "Maybe Detroit is the brand. Detroit, quote unquote, is what you're building. Detroit is powerful ... Detroit is cool ..."

"What is 'cool'?" La Brecque asks the group softly, rhetorically, flashing additional possibilities onto an overhead screen. "What defines Detroit as urban cool?"

The answer is certainly not to be found in the scars of the past. The Detroit race riots of 1968, which left major parts of the downtown and many neighborhoods in smoking ruins, have cast a shadow on the city for decades. Nor is it found in the unwanted image, painted by years of crime statistics, of "America's most dangerous" city, a cauldron of urban decay in the Rust Belt.

But while those images hang stubbornly in the American pysche, they constitute an obsolete perception, largely retained by older generations, says Baum. Fortunately, he adds, it is not a perception widely held by the target group of the CVB's campaign, 21-to-34-year-olds, who were born long after 1968.

That target group is the emerging demographic for most travel marketing these days, La Brecque says, the age group that has become the trend setters, early adopters, embracers of new media and the most likely consumers of cultural experiences for a long time to come.

Selling that group on what makes Detroit unique, interesting and fun, and thus a revitalized city, has, over the past 18 months, been the subject of focus groups, study sessions, internal research and community testing.

Armed with the resulting intelligence, the group agrees it can support assertions that what makes Detroit "cool" is "cars, culture, gaming, music and sports." It all represents, they say, a Detroit that has stepped into the 21st century.

The approach that emerges from the meeting, and from the session that follows the next day with local advertising guru Jim Berline, concedes that although Detroit may not be for everyone, it has something unique to offer, something interesting to those unburdened by the past.

The slogan: 'No slogans!'

Outside Berline's offices in Royal Oak the next morning, Alexander pulls his suit coat over his head and makes a dash for the front door as a cold autumn rain pelts the sidewalk. He is followed by a videographer hired to record the meeting. Inside, dozens of mat boards with bright and provocative images spill across the table and the floor of a large room.

The photographs and drawings have words stenciled across them, matching language to ideas in an attempt to visualize Detroit's uniqueness and what makes it "cool." They all revolve around themes of music, art, architecture, cars and sports teams. The elements are comprehensive.

The type across a detailed photograph of a manhole cover says, "Gritty. Pretty. Motor City." They like it.

Another features a sexy woman sitting on the front wheel of a chopped and channeled hot rod, a Detroit specialty. One by one, Alexander, Baum and La Brecque make picks. The one they like best uses these words: "Detroit. Where cool comes from."

The goal all along, Baum says, has been to convey the "story" of modern Detroit in few words and many pictures, and through the less-traditional media that appeal to their target demographic.

The images that Berline's staff has composed are dramatic: a gritty city that exudes power; an urban center of wealth and influence; a metropolis that trumpets a diverse culture, including some of America's most innovative music. Detroit: birthplace of the Motown sound and, more recently, techno music; home of such legends as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder plus new artists like the White Stripes and Eminem.

As the three sort through the standing images, the video camera rolling behind them, it is clear that many fit a detailed plan already unfolding. The CVB has laid groundwork to hire young actors to energize and deliver the message of urban cool to "young and hip" travelers.

They have set schedules and made plans to focus on the new media that their demographic prefers: Podcasts and Internet-accessible video; blogs to reach tourists and raise awareness of Detroit; marketing skits featuring iconic personalities. Like the language that describes the city, all these will evolve over time, reinforcing the image of Detroit as a cultural and industrial center that is different.

Alexander said the gravitation toward new media came from studies and focus groups revealing their targets' preferences.

"They don't like being marketed to," Alexander said. "They don't trust traditional marketing. They are savvy, and they know instantly when you are trying to sell them something. They want to learn about what you have to offer, not have it sold to them. They want to be entertained."

They also want something, he said, beyond the traditional messages that dominate tourism marketing in most cities, beyond the ideas of sightseeing and museum prowling: a sense of a city's "beat," its culture, and the chance to participate in and "be stimulated by it."

In the end, the group and its advisers conclude that one thing the campaign does not need is a slogan.

"A lot of people look first for a slogan when you talk about a marketing campaign," Baum says. "When we unveil the campaign, it comes with a surprise: No slogan."

In fact, slogans have proved effective for only a handful of marketing efforts, most notably for Las Vegas' "What happens here, stays here."

"A slogan locks you into one idea," Baum says. "What we want is to unlock the potential of the brand itself."

La Brecque adds: "For a Detroit, a diverse city that breathes music, settling on one slogan seemed needlessly contrived. We needed to focus on imagery of the city's cultural diversity and cultural production."

One major thing the campaign leaders easily agree on is that the city is its own iconic brand.

They see the Old English "D", which the Tigers created and made famous, as perhaps the best-known symbol of the city. But efforts to adopt it for the citywide campaign eventually derailed over copyright issues.

Instead, the CVB adopted a slightly different version, one of their own making. It looks dynamic, engineered and bold, as if hammered from steel.
Clearly, a lot is riding on this campaign. Not only have several million dollars been budgeted for it, but there is also a feeling that the time has never been better to encourage visitors to discover that Detroit has changed dramatically.

"That there were negative images of Detroit absolutely crossed my mind immediately," La Brecque says, recalling when he joined the effort in March 2006. "My concept of Detroit was really a mystery. I had the impression of most outsiders that it was a pretty gritty place, probably more than a little dangerous, and a city that had seen better days. I decided on one visit to find the real Detroit and go downtown. But it was such a spread-out city, and I couldn't find the 'there' there."


Later, as he moved deeper into the project, he began to see aspects of Detroit he had initially overlooked.

"This was a city with a real challenge, and nothing had been working," he says. "There was a strong sense of need there, which really helped us focus on what we were after."

Just as the Tigers fought back from a string of disappointing seasons, the Motor City has been at work restoring and refurbishing itself since the mid-1990s, carefully crafting a revival of its once and former glory as the heart of industrialization, automation and intellectual and engineering capital.

Over the past few years, Detroit has invested in the jewels of its downtown: architecture and accommodation; the rebuilding of its riverfront facing the Canadian border; new downtown hotels, shops, music venues, casinos and restaurants. Together, they emerge as newly attractive symbols of a commercial revival, along with new stadiums that are model sports venues.

A city once viewed not only as dangerous but dirty, Detroit now periodically steam-cleans its sidewalks, and crime rates have fallen significantly.

Larry Alexander, who inherited a series of past marketing misses, says his first objective in late 2005, after Patricia Moordian and other members of an advisory council began meeting, was to seek political consensus for developing and investing in a brand that could not only apply to Detroit proper but to the entire multicounty metro area.

"We started this process in 2005 under our Tourism Economic Development Council," Alexander says. "The reason for starting there was that the council included key politicians in the region, public and private entities and business interests. ... Doing it under that umbrella ensured that all the key players were part of the process."

But the CVB also made a crucial decision early in the process: They would seek endorsement -- but not give final approval -- of the plans to people outside the core group of decision-makers. The idea was that limiting the approval process would keep them focused on one idea and would also keep the stakes high.

In the end, the process worked well, Alexander says.

It is easy for the average tourist to see that Detroit has changed. A tour of its downtown, past the restored, enigmatic Aztec-art-deco architecture of the Guardian Building to the new casino district, from a trip down Woodward Avenue, famed haunt of hot-rodders, to walks along the developing riverfront offer much evidence of change.

The riverfront will become a major draw, and cruises on the Great Lakes will embark from a permanent port there. Ethnic, multicultural communities are expected to grow around the development and replace what in years past were industrial areas.

High hopes

The heady days of the Tigers' pennant chase ran for just over a week last October, until the Tigers lost to St. Louis and watched its World Championship aspirations evaporate.

"That kind of got us all sidetracked for a little bit," Alexander allowed.

But any comparisons between the rise and fall of the Tigers and the new marketing campaign end there, he insisted. The team's success, even as runner-up, only bolstered enthusiasm for the pending campaign to reveal Detroit as desirable, vibrant and real.

Ironically, Detroit not only handed the Series crown to St. Louis, but recent FBI crime statistics show the city also ceded the title of "America's most dangerous city" to St. Louis, as well.

Nevertheless, it is a new season and a new year. Last week, shortly before the grand unveiling at the CVB's annual meeting at the Detroit Opera House, the promoters said they were confident the campaign would be well-received.

"By and large," La Brecque said, "if this works ... I feel it could be a watershed moment in tourism branding, at least in America and possibly the world."

Now Alexander, Baum and La Brecque find themselves with fingers crossed as they await the reviews of their handiwork.

"You never feel supremely confident," Alexander said. "But after the unveiling meeting, you know we'll be looking to see what the papers say and what the television stations say, and that will determine the impact we've had."

"We have tried to be up-front with everything, to make sure everyone was included and that we have made the right decisions. But the jury is still out at the moment."

To contact reporter Dan Luzadder, send e-mail to dluzadder@travelweekly.com.

It's a Ford! No, it's a Chrysler! No, it's Detroit's D-Rod!

Last week, as Detroit's Convention and Visitor's Bureau prepared to roll out its new branding and marketing campaign, it also prepared to bring a rolling symbol of that effort -- a 1932 Ford known as the "D-Rod" -- into the public eye.

To those who grew up reading Hot Rod magazine, the bible of the baby-boomer street-rod wannabes, Detroit's brand-symbol-on-wheels will speak loudly to the city's past, present and future.
It's a hot rod like nothing most car enthusiasts even dreamed of owning, powered by a 6.5-liter Chrysler Hemi engine, one of only eight like it in the world. Beneath its chrome is some of the most advanced automotive technology Detroit offers today.
The promo car was built by Detroit Muscle of Holly, Mich., one of the many makers of custom autos that continue to thrive in the Motor City region, spawned by the area's wholesale automotive talent.
Larry Alexander, president of the CVB, said the D-Rod was headed across the Midwest to carry the banner of Detroit's efforts to revive tourism. It is a part of the campaign that reaches beyond the primary target of 21-to-34-year-olds.
"We are going to use the car for media trade show booths and meeting planners," Alexander said, "because these cars appeal to an older demographic.

"Think about it. Hot cars and hot rod, something with this engine, is going to appeal to my age group. They can have their pictures taken with it and see the kind of creativity that comes out of Detroit."
The D-Rod is likely to be used extensively next year in Detroit alone, as the city celebrates the 100-year anniversary of Henry Ford's Model T.
As the D-Rod waited last week for its own official unveiling, top engineers from Chrysler Corp. were busy plugging their laptops into the engine's high-tech computers to tune it to a fine pitch at the touch of keystroke.
Though the D-Rod itself may not evoke memories of automotive glories for the city's primary target demographic, it is still a "cool" car, and a dream ride -- one that Alexander and company hope will get people to follow it home. -- D.L.

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