New Open-Source Mentality Is Just What Detroit Needs

An Ad Age Editorial

Published on .

Sometimes it takes an outsider to inspire an industry to think differently.

That was the idea behind Ad Age's Idea Conference when we launched it six years ago, inviting chefs, art curators, architects, philanthropists and DJs to come together with marketing folks to inspire creativity and innovation, and it remains so today. This week, we bring Idea to Detroit, a city that's in the midst of transformation.

While much of that has been driven by the area's businesses and entrepreneurs, it's also been driven by outsiders who have come in and made their mark on the city. Today, all three major auto CEOs and their marketing chiefs are not legacies of Motor City, but outsiders. An affront to the city's homegrown talent?

That's not how the region views it anymore, writes David Kiley in this week's Ad Age.

While Detroit used to be a relatively insular place, even hostile to outsiders, that era is over. Instead, writes Mr. Kiley, a veteran journalist covering the marketing and automotive scene in his adopted hometown, we live in an era where Buick is a bigger brand in China than in the U.S. and "in the 'new' Detroit, outside influences are not only welcome, they are required."

Of course, if the region is truly going to be born anew, it needs to foster strong local human capital, and we're glad to see that agencies such as Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Fallon are opening Detroit offices, and that Chrysler has tapped local shop Doner for retail advertising and local boutique Impatto for this year's Fiat launch.

In addition to Detroit's advertising scene, there's a revitalized creative class of entrepreneurs, artists, chefs, philanthropists and inventors, many of whom will be at Idea Detroit.

While some might bemoan that the Big Three didn't tap local shops for everything, that's a parochial point of view that even the staunchest Detroiters seem to have gotten over. We live in an open-source, global world, and it'll take both on-the-ground talent as well as ideas from elsewhere to truly remake the city.

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