County Sets $50 Mil. Brand Push

Detroit and Surrounding Area Want to Shed Rust Belt Image
DETROIT–Michigan’s largest county, which includes Detroit, plans to invest $50 million over the next 10 years on advertising and marketing in an effort to create a more positive image for itself.
Wayne County officials are now reviewing proposal requests from consultants and will begin the selection process for an advertising agency later this year, said Tim Johnson, the county’s director of marketing and communications.
The consultant, which is expected to be in place by Sept. 1, will be asked to develop a brand identity and marketing strategy for the county and will conduct feasibility studies on what can be done. The selected ad agency will pick up on the consultancy’s findings.
The goal in creating a new brand image is to erase the nation’s lingering impression of Detroit as capital of the rust belt, and thereby pump up economic investment in the county, Johnson said. Funds for the program come from the sale of some county property, Johnson said.
An initial $500,000 in seed money will fund a pilot program in three areas of the county–an area of southwest Detroit known as “Mexicantown,” the area surrounding the University of Detroit Mercy, and the Eureka Road corridor through the cities of Taylor and Southgate, which leads to Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Executives in those communities are being asked for ideas on how to spend those funds.
Officials will take what they learn from that program and apply it to the branding effort countywide, Johnson said. That effort will be supplemented with community and corporate dollars, he said.
The county, which is home to the state’s largest city and economic capital, is one of the nation’s top three counties in attracting new business. But the perception persists that the Motor City and surrounding area is the heart of the rust belt, Johnson said.
According to statistics issued by the county, each year, cities and counties ac-ross the country compete for roughly 10,000 location decisions that are made by corporations. The thought is that building a strong brand identity for Wayne County will help differentiate it when those decisions are made, Johnson said. K