Blog: Chad Wiebesick

Does Ann Arbor have its own Mad Men culture? Chad Wiebesick says yes. As the Interactive Strategy Director at Perich Advertising + Design and president of the Ann Arbor Ad Club he probably knows what he's talking about. Guess what he'll be writing about in this week's guest blog?

Chad Wiebesick - Post No 2: How Would You Rebrand Detroit?

If there were ever a city in recent American history with as much discussion about its dramatic demise, it would be Detroit. The news is sobering:  A staggering three out of ten Detroit residents are unemployed  – the worst in the nation among big-city populations. Three out of four freshmen do not graduate high school. And since 2007, houses have been cheaper than cars.

Fortunately, a number of organizations are improving the situation. The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, for instance, are two non-profit organizations whose mission is to make Detroit a better place.

One unexpected organization making a difference, in particular, is the largest magazine publisher in the U.S. – Time, Inc.

Time Inc. purchased a 95-year old, 3-story, 5-bedroom house in Detroit this summer for $99,000, four times the median price of a Detroit house. The magazine sent several reporters on special assignment for one year to live in and report on Detroit. The journalism is intentionally positive, chronicling the hope and opportunities along the city’s road to recovery.

But Time magazine sought out yet another way to make a difference. Detroit has an image problem. In support of Detroit’s efforts to reinvent itself, Time magazine turned to one profession whose livelihood is influencing behavior, shaping perceptions, and understanding human psychology – advertising and marketing.

invited several Detroit-area advertising agencies to a competition. The challenge? Develop an ad campaign to promote the city as a desirable place to live, work, and play. Five ad agencies participated, including Campbell-Ewald, McCann Erickson, Leo Burnett, Doner, and GlobalHue.  Strategies and campaigns varied widely. One featured Kid Rock. Another, a help-wanted ad. So, what did some of the brightest advertising minds come up with? You can get a glimpse of the inspiring campaigns on Time’s Detroit blog.

donated nearly a half million dollars of free media exposure to promote the campaigns in Time magazine,, and elsewhere. The public voted for their favorite campaign and the winner was announced at the prestigious “D Show” advertising award ceremony earlier this month (VIP tickets cost $200).

The public voted Campbell-Ewald the winner. The campaign stars Ro Spit, a local hip-hop artist and owner of Burn Rubber, a sneaker boutique whose shoes are worn by national artists like Mos Def. Ro Spit talks about what makes Detroit a great place for art, creative, music, and fashion. Campbell-Ewald’s magazine print ad incorporates a cutting-edge QR code that takes people to A QR code is essentially a high tech bar code that when photographed by a smart phone, takes people to a mobile website. The mobile site features a testimonial video of Ro Spit discussing why he loves Detroit.

If you missed the D Show and would like to see these campaigns in person (free of charge), the Ann Arbor Ad Club was given permission by Time to share them with the public. The inspiring campaigns will be on display at Conor O’Neill’s (318 South Main Street, Ann Arbor) on Thursday, December 17th from 4 pm to 7 pm.  Come see their work and comment, criticize, and praise.