Doner Pays Homage to Detroit With ‘When the Motor Stops’

By Erik Oster 

Doner documented a desolate Detroit over the weekend as the Motor City’s streets saw the impact of social distancing measures.

The agency’s message of solidarity with its home city of Detroit, “When the Motor Stops,” was shot solo in black and white by Doner’s in-house director, Zeke Anders.

It documents little messages of solidarity sprawled across the city, such as “We love you, Detroit” and “We will get through this together.” A voiceover acknowledges how unnatural the almost completely empty streets feel, but positions them as a sign of strength and unity around a common cause.

After the video was shot, the editor cut and finished it remotely from home. The voiceover artist recorded her part from a closet.


The message arrives as the Detroit Health Department reports that the city’s number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 2,000, including 73 deaths. Some medical experts believe the city’s rates of poverty and chronic disease could make it the next hot spot for the coronavirus pandemic, underlying the need for serious social distancing measures.

“When the Motor Stops” delivers a message of particular importance to the city, but its positioning of social distancing measures as acts of collective strength is far more universal.


Agency: Doner
Director: Zeke Anders
Creative Team: Michael Stelmaszek, Zeke Anders, Alex Demuth
Strategy: Alex Demuth
Music: Jon Moshier, Julian Whettlin
Voiceover: Olivia Hill
Script: Michael Stelmaszek
Production: Jennie Hochthanner, Tony Del Bel
Musician: Low Lumens