Jerry Paffendorf’s ImaginationStation was an art and performance space sitting near Detroit’s iconic eyesore: the windowless, 18-story Michigan Central Station. He and some neighbors had bought two houses and a field for $6,000 and renovated the property as a goodwill gesture and an expression of faith in his adopted home.
“With so much abandoned property [in Detroit], arson is common. One 32-hour span in September saw 31 fires. The department’s finances are such that last year firehouses ran out of toilet paper….”
At an event in Ohio recently, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and Wieden + Kennedy’s John Jay talk about the impact of the “Imported From Detroit” campaign on the fortunes of the automaker over the past two years.
We take you behind the scenes of Chrysler’s widely-acclaimed Super Bowl ad featuring Eminem and his birthplace, Detroit:
The ad was ostensibly for the Chrysler 200, and it roared out from the pack of silliness last night during the third quarter. It did so much so right, offering so many details that showed a real understanding of Motown. Opening shots of factories; interstate road signs to introduce the name “Detroit;” cutting to downtown as the narrator begins to discuss “luxury,” a downtown still resplendent with buildings and architectural detail from a time when Detroit was the richest city in America; straight ahead references to the fact that the city has “been to hell and back”; and finally a ride down Woodward Avenue, ending up outside the beautiful, powerful Fox Theatre, built in 1928, restored in 1988 thanks to the Ilitch family, which also owns the Red Wings and the Tigers. And the tagline, “Imported from Detroit,” is perfect. It blends luxury and quality with Motown pride, while at the same time acknowledging just how much America has wanted to pretend that Detroit is from a different country, an “unAmerican” country that would allow its citizens to live in such despair.
But the biggest choice Wieden + Kennedy and Chrysler made was their choice of spokesmusician. The guy who emerged from that gleaming Chrysler 200 was Eminem, not Kid Rock. Kid Rock is the singer who has been most associated with the revival of the city. His recent 40th birthday concert at Ford Field was a rockfest celebrating the city; he’s sponsored one charitable event after another for Detroit; and he has at least two businesses (“Made in Detroit” clothing and “Badass” Beer) that are local and proud of it.
Great stuff, and if you blow a few paychecks to put a down payment on that new car, we can’t blame you.