Will Advertising Lead Detroit’s Renaissance?

By Shawn Paul Wood 

LCE Detroit InsideDetroit.

It’s the nation’s No. 11 media market, No. 9 African-American market, No 15 Asian-American market, and No. 43 U.S. Hispanic market. It’s a sports mecca, the birthplace of Motown and the American automobile, home to Belle Isle and host to some of the coolest art-deco in the country.

It is also a city currently $18 billion in debt, relying on casino cash to survive, and losing residents by the GM truckload. The marketplace surrounding Ford Field, which included a barren historic complex and the J.L. Hudson Warehouse (also completely empty), was supposed to be the spark to light that phoenix ablaze.

And then Lowe Campbell Ewald moved in.

A recent Forbes piece paints a similar picture of the city, with talk of a hotel, attractions, and a full entertainment district that was supposed to help rebuild downtown Detroit.

The project never materialized.

Who knew that a possible answer lay 17 miles away in Warren, Michigan? Yet LCE and its 600 employees had been there for 35 years. Last year, LCE announced the move to the wasteland near Ford Field that played a supporting role in several apocalyptic films.

Look how they spruced up the place:

LCE Detroit Inside 2

LCE Detroit Inside 3

“People are just generally more upbeat all around, and the other space, frankly, was not a creative, inspiring space, and that’s the business we’re in. We’re trying to get people’s creative juices going,” Jim Palmer, LCE’s CEO, tells Forbes on a recent tour of the space.

We’re Moving To Detroit, And So Should You,” was produced by LCE creative director Iain Lanivich and began spreading rapidly, earning Lanivich and other staffers speaking gigs at SXSW and other events. Even Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder showed the video during an expedition to China.

It was a daunting task to fill 122,000 square feet and five floors, but they did it. Here’s hoping the project leads others to consider enjoying The Motor City, too.