Friday, February 11, 2011

Thoughts on Michigan, Detroit, and its Cars


Michiganexpats – Commentary – See All Commentary

By Mr. Sig

After seeing the Chrysler super bowl commercial a couple times and hearing some of the follow up, I have a few thoughts regarding Detroit and the car industry.

First – fancy, eye catching commercials are not going to do the trick.  What bothered me about the Chrysler commercial was that it focused not on the vehicle, but on “Detroit Pride.”  The highlight of the commercial was Eminem and nostalgic feelings that people felt for Detroit – that of being a hard-nosed, blue collar get ‘em done attitude type place.  Perhaps that’s true.  However, the commercial did not tell me anything about why the Chrysler vehicle was one that should be purchased.  I don’t even remember what car was on the commercial.  It looked like all the cars Chrysler has made for the past 20 years.  Nothing compelling.

Granted – this was a well-produced commercial, but I don’t see it resonating with people who are actually considering buying a car.

So what’s next?

I strongly believe that Detroit should give up on the car industry.  Let it hang around for a while, but to be honest, there are serious pitfalls to hanging on too long to the past.  Detroit needs to be reinvented.  It has a great location – near the water, an international border with Canada, a close drive to Ann Arbor. Detroit should be sucking all the young, budding smart grad students from UM and MSU to do all sorts of great work.  None of these people want to work for the car industry – so Detroit needs to offer something else.

Bloggers don’t offer solutions – they just blather on about issues.  This particular post is no different, but I truly believe that if Detroit washes its hands of the past, new opportunities and industries will evolve.  It requires a change of heart for the many people that live there, but ultimately one has to trust in the ingenuity of humans and their unstoppable desire to create new things.  Detroit certainly has not forgotten how to do that.

Eminem’s last line in that commercial maybe should have been.  This is Detroit – this is what we did.

And I’d raise a glass to that and thank Detroit for making the US the greatest carmaker in the world for a great time.

And then I’d go on to the next good party.

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