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February 09, 2011

Comments

Old Dominion Tory

I was awaiting your evaluation of the Chrysler ad, Mrs. Peperium.
You're the pro in this regard, but I took the ad to be an attempt to boost (I am being kind) overall confidence in the Chrysler brand and to link it to some sort of uplifting, quietly patriotic effort to resurrect the Big Three.
I say "Big Three," instead of "American car industry" because the American car industry now consists of many foreign-based manufacturers who thrive under most un-Detriot-like labor agreements, management assumptions, and tax structures in places like South Carolina.
I find interesting the assertion that that Detriot had "been to hell and back." As my wife, a Detriot native with family still in the area, asked, "When did it get back?"
One commentator also noticed the ad's focus on the city, rather than the car or the company, and declared that it, therefore, should be classed as a public service announcement. Something to that, methinks.
As to Lee Iacocca, if you can find it, please read P.J. O'Rourke's review of Iacocca's memoir (it initially appeared in The American Spectator). It is exquisitely funny.

Old Dominion Tory

@Friendly Observer: As nice as it is that the ad attracted all sorts of "buzz," if sustained, will the "buzz" be more about the ad or about the car and/or the company? If the latter, then the team that made the ad can begin to practice their speeches for various award dinners, but Chrysler's dealers and workers will find their plight unchanged.

Robbo

I second ODT's recommendation of Peej's roast of Iacocca.

Mrs. P, what do you think of the new Chrysler tag line "Imported from Detroit"? I know that they're trying to go toe-to-toe with the Germans and the Japanese, but in my mind, this is more like saying "Imported from Somalia".

Mrs. P

Robbo, I almost spit coffee on the computer screen.

Imported from Detroit...well considering -thanks to Democrats- Detroit is really a third world country residing within one of the 50 states, the use of import is apt.

Too bad no no one will buy it though. As who wants anything imported from Detroit? Who in their right mind would want to be associated with Detroit? As ODT asked "When did Detroit come back?" It hasn't because it can't.

Don't the ad guys, Chrylser guys or the Administration read the Wall Street Journal? From JUNE 5 2010:

"DETROIT—This shrinking city needs to hang on to people like Johnette Barham: taxpaying, middle-class professionals who invest in local real estate, work and play downtown, and make their home here.

"Ms. Barham just left. And she's not coming back.

"In seven years as a homeowner in Detroit, she endured more than 10 burglaries and break-ins at her house and a nearby rental property she owned. Still, she defied friends' pleas to leave as she fortified her home with locks, bars, alarms and a dog.

"Then, a week before Christmas, someone torched the house and destroyed almost everything she owned.

"In March, police arrested a suspect in connection with the case, someone who turned out to be remarkably easy to find. For Ms. Barham, the arrest came one crime too late. "I was constantly being targeted in a way I couldn't predict, in a way that couldn't be controlled by the police," she says. "I couldn't take it anymore."

"Ms. Barham's journey from diehard to defector illustrates the precarious state of Detroit today. The city—which has shed roughly 1 million residents since the 1950s—is now losing the African-American professionals who had stayed steadfastly, almost defiantly, loyal.

"Through decades of white flight and economic distress, these diehards have sustained the city's cultural institutions and allowed prime neighborhoods such as Indian Village and Palmer Woods to stave off the blight that infects large swaths of Detroit.

"Today, frustrated by plummeting property values and high crime, many diehards have hit their breaking point. Their exodus is consigning borderline neighborhoods to full-blown blight and putting prime residential areas at risk. By some estimates, this year's Census will show a population drop of 150,000 people from the 951,000 people who lived within city limits in 2000. That would be roughly double the population loss in the 1990s, when black, middle-class flight began replacing white flight as the prevailing dynamic.

"There are other signs the middle class is throwing in the towel. From 1999 to 2008, median household income in Detroit dropped nearly 25% to $28,730, after growing 17% in the 1990s, according to Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit that analyzes Census data for the city. Over that period, the proportion of owner-occupied homes fell to 39% from 49%, while the proportion of vacant homes nearly tripled to 28%.

"The folks with the wherewithal to leave, the folks with the jobs… those are the people that have the ability to exercise voting with your feet," says David Martin, a professor of public policy at Wayne State University in Detroit."

The adult illiteracy rate is almost at 50%. With the flight of the remaining middle class-expect that number to go up. Back when the Detroit papers still had home delivery - the papers were full of the stories of Eminem's personal troubles - his wife and his mother.

Again, who in their right mind wants to be associated with that?

Any ad guy that thinks 2 minutes worth of 9 million dollar film no matter how well shot will turn around systemic problems both in Detroit, in Chrylser or even in Eminem's personal life has an inflated sense of his own talent. As well as a distorted view of the job he was hired to do. His job is to move the sheet metal. Chrysler's sheet metal only. Not Gm's nor Ford's.

Total rookie mistake. And an historically expensive one at that.


Robbo

My dear Mrs. P -

Recently, in an effort to find the location of the original Ft. Detroit, I was scrolling about the city on Google-Earth. As I did so, two things began to dawn on me: First, I could not find a single parking lot, even downtown, that looked more than half full. Second, great big swaths of the city looked like...wasteland: Houses burned out or razed, crumbling streets and vacant lots, the jungle creeping in all over the place.

I'd read about this sort of thing, but to be able to see it so easily from a satellite view filled me with a feeling of sick horror.

Dewey From Detroit

Robbo, "sick horror" indeed. And you don't know the half of it if you aren't from around these parts.

Mrs. P. Great Post! I had the exact same responses to the ad. Sleek and fun to watch, but - huh? I thought admen were supposed to be tuned into the zeitgeist.

Either this team's never been to Detroit, or they should be doing political ads.

I'm linking over the weekend.

big spaniel

Agreement. I looked up the Chrysler commercial the day after the Super Bowl, and thought that it was a very interesting and powerful artistic piece, and stirred my emotions about the Motor City. I was moved by it. But not to buy a car. (There was a car somewhere in there, right?) And I'm not sure I'd buy a car from the city that I saw there. I'm still scratching my head about it. And this whole line about "luxury" was quite awkward, I'm not sure where, if anywhere, it fit in.

I just got back from two weeks home in Detroit. I did a fair amount of driving around for stuff. Maybe it's because I've been away for a few years, maybe because I've been living in a place the exact opposite of Detroit, maybe it was because I was visiting the hospital a lot (don't worry -- everything's ok now) but I thought things were really, really awful, more awful that I had believed.

And while things have probably bottomed out, things in Detroit will not be good for a long, long time. As someone who's always been interested in things urban, Detroit is a very interesting question: can you totally and completely remake a city, or more correctly, can you totally and completely remake the economic basis of a city, because, after all, cities and wholly economic entities?

Think about this: Detroit is a hundred-year boom town, and the boom is over. Some kind of new economic motor has to be found, else it will become something like one of those "arrested decay" ghost towns you can see out West.

They said that St. Louis was America's first Dead City, and then they said much the same about Pittsburgh, but now I think it's Detroit's turn.

Mr. P

Oh who cares about things urban. Did you get my email thanking you guys for the cute Yuletide troll or pixie or (insert appropriate Scandinavian word with two dots over one of the vowels here)?

The reports of the demise of St. Louis are, we are happy to say, greatly exaggerated. I can't say the same about Pittsburgh, not having been there in years. But we've got friends in Detroit still, and no amount of non-advertising is going to bring it back. Smoke and mirrors can't bring back something that's already largely smoke. I go on Youtube some days to watch videos of where we used to drive--and can't believe what I accepted as "normal"--just because it was my home town and it had been sliding so slowly, so imperceptibly, that I didn't notice until I spent a few years on the outside.

The spot was the usual Dee-troit, chip-on-the-shoulder, bad attitude, gangsta crap that has gotten the place where it is today--and will keep it there for decades to come. Good riddance.

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