Dear Mr. Moore:
Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since you shined a spotlight on the canyon between Roger Smith and the people of Flint.
What’s even more surprising is that it’s gotten worse since then.
While 30,000 workers in Detroit (80,000 to date according to Wikipedia) fell to the hands of Mr. Smith, the rippling effects of that kind of incompetence and greed are still being felt across many different industries. Including my own: advertising.
There’s a saying: As car companies go, so go their agencies. When those plants in Flint closed in 1989, it was also the beginning of the end for Detroit’s advertising community. Most recently, BBDO announced it would lay off its entire Detroit staff after Chrysler moved its account out of town. This is just the latest in a string of mass layoffs and agency closings that have plagued Detroit’s advertising community. (Interesting side-note on the shuttering of BBDO — the layoffs take effect on January 26, 2010. Less than a month past the deadline for the newly unemployed to qualify for the 65% Cobra subsidy. Nice.)
And it’s not like these talented workers can hop across town to another shop. There’s literally no place left to go. One by one, automobile accounts are either slashing their budgets or firing their agencies, forcing people to consider a career change or move out of state.
I know, boohoo. A bunch of white-collar Mad Men lose their jobs. Where’s the violin? Historically, we’re a reviled bunch, right up there with used car salesmen and lawyers in public opinion polls. Serves us right, right?
What most people don’t understand is that advertising is one of thew few careers where creative people can earn a living. As Bansky said (for better or worse), “The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists.” Painting and busking and writing poetry won’t pay our bills. So those of us wanting a family and a house and the means to allow our spouses to stay home with the kids (you know, the “American Dream”) turn to advertising as a way to get paid to use our right brains.
So what can these people, once paid to be creative for a living, do when they lose their jobs?
I recently made a film about that very topic. It’s called Lemonade, and it highlights 16 laid-off advertising professionals who, out of necessity, listened to the voice in the back of their heads that said, “Someday, I’ll ________.”
Like Bob Weeks, who lost his job as an art director and now roasts coffee for a living.
Or Jeanne Schad, who got laid off as an account executive and now coaches companies around the world on best HR practices (including how to downsize).
Or David Cohen, who lost his job and made the most profound change a guy can make: he became a woman.
Mr. Moore, we’d love for you to be our guest of honor at the Detroit screening of Lemonade on December 17. RingSide Creative has graciously offered to host the film at their off-site sound stage, Combermere in Troy. RingSide is helping their own, just like everyone who volunteered to make this film (which was shot by one of your DPs on Sicko, I might add.)
Instead of mourning unemployment, Detroit’s creative community will gather to consider what’s possible. For one night, we’ll sequester ourselves from the collapse, hoist a pint or two and have us a good, old-fashioned celebration.
With or without you, this is going to be an amazing event. But with you, it could inspire the next chapter of the movement you helped to create.
If you’d like to reserve a ticket, give Kim at RingSide a call at 248-548-2500.
And if you’re still undecided, you can watch the trailer at www.lemonademovie.com.
So come on down! (Or something like that.) We’re eagerly looking forward to your response.