In Hot Downtown Detroit, Ad Agency Leads Revitalization

Jun 11 2014, 4:52pm CDT | by

When Ford Field opened in downtown Detroit 12 years ago to house the Detroit Lions, there were bigger plans to envision the site as a one-stop entertainment destination, with an on-site hotel and other attractions adjacent to the football field.

Instead, a planned space for a hotel — complete with a massive atrium — laid dormant for the last decade, with plans falling through with no tenant in sight. Other hotels flourished downtown, but owners of the stadium began to wonder if their space would ever be filled.

Enter Lowe Campbell Ewald, the venerable ad agency with deep ties to the automotive industry and its beginnings in Michigan. Long joined at the hip with General Motors, it had begun searching for in-city office space when it began to outgrow its suburban Detroit facility.

Lowe Campbell Ewald has begun settling in the space this year, and has brought with it more than 500 employees to a resurgent downtown Detroit. The move is one of several as power players push to fill a swath commercial vacancies that have ailed the city — and its image — in recent times.

“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.

The agency leaves behind an office in Warren, Michigan’s third-largest city, it had moved into when General Motors moved its technical center to the suburb in the 1950s. LCE’s ancestral home is in Detroit, opening near GM’s original headquarters in the city’s New Center area north of downtown.

An unofficial agreement between both companies required them to be in close company, but with operations spread all over those sentiments have dissipated. LCE began making the case for an in-city move to its corporate administrators in New York a few years ago, predicting the current sea change in downtown Detroit.

The move seems to have paid off so far. The open space, punctuated by the large atrium, lends to more collaboration among the creatives working there, Palmer says. Cubicles in the Warren location stifled creativity; state-of-the-art whiteboards, lounges, studios and other modern workplace additions encourages it.

Reclaimed barn wood from demolished homes in the city are refurbished into desks and other workspaces, while wooden pallets are reimagined as tables. Leather-bound archives of the company’s ad campaigns, once locked away, are now on display for easy access. “All these collaboration areas just worked. It worked right from the get-go,” Kathleem Donald, LCE’s chief operating officer, says.

Ahead of the move, a few LCE employees put together a video encouraging other companies and potential residents to move to Detroit. The video started circulating right around the time Detroit became the largest city to file for municipal bankruptcy, but confronts such fears head-on.

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

The video was sort of a skunkworks project; it wasn’t seen as a companywide initiative. “It was a group of guys that really took on a project themselves, led by Iain Lainvich and company, and are just so determined to make this town go,” Palmer says.  “We didn’t know it would get sucked up in the scene, if you will.”

But it has earned LCE welcome attention and accolades for taking on Detroit. “People are proud to work at this company, and I think it has to do with the space,” Palmer says.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Beyonce, Jay Z to document marriage problems?
Los Angeles, Sep 28 (IANS) Singer Beyoncé Knowles and her husband-rapper Jay Z will reportedly detail their recent marriage difficulties on their upcoming album. The couple's marriage was rumoured to be on the rocks...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Paltrow's star-studded birthday bash
Los Angeles, Sep 28 (IANS) Actress Gwyneth Paltrow celebrated her first birthday since her split from husband Chris Martin by gathering her Hollywood friends for a dinner party here. The bash took place Friday night....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Breathe easy with 'Lung Flute'
New York, Sep 28 (IANS) An Indian-origin scientist has developed a hand-held "lung flute" that allows patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to clear lung mucus simply by blowing into the...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Lindsay Lohan defends theatre debut
London, Sep 28 (IANS) Actress Lindsay Lohan has defended her West End theatre debut after she was accused of forgetting her lines in her first show, insisting the performance "could have been a disaster... but it wasn'...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
$500,000 diamond ring stolen in Australia
Sydney, Sep 28 (IANS) A diamond ring worth half-a-million dollars was stolen from an auction site in Australia, media reported Sunday. The pink argyle and white diamond ring, valued at 577,000 Australian dollars ($500...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Man pours boiling water on wife in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh, Sep 28 (IANS) Police have arrested a man in Saudi Arabia for pouring boiling water on his wife following a dispute, a media report said Sunday. The man, a drug addict, last week poured boiling water on his 35-...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
30 dead in Japan volcano eruption
Tokyo, Sep 28 (IANS) At least 30 people were killed and some 250 others were trapped due to falling rocks and volcanic ash following a sudden volcanic eruption in central Japan, media reports said Sunday. The bodies...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Asian Games: Rajiv, Povamma win bronze in men and women's 400m
Incheon, Sep 28 (IANS) Indian quartermilers Arokia Rajiv and M. Povamma Raju put up a fine show to clinch the bronze medals in the men and women's 400 metre events, respectively, at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium in...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Modi gets Nepal's support for International Yoga Day
Kathmandu, Sep 28 (IANS) Nepal has supported Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for an International Yoga Day enunciated during his speech at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly. Hailing Nepal's...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
US drone strike kills two in Pakistan
Islamabad, Sep 28 (IANS) At least two people were killed and four injured in a US drone attack in Pakistan Sunday, a media report said. An unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a vehicle in Wana area of South...
Read more on Politics Balla