The Detroit News is reporting that Chrysler is suing “Pure Detroit,” a Motown-based apparel company (“Chrysler suing Pure Detroit over ‘Imported from Detroit’ slogan”) for using the “Imported From Detroit” slogan the car company is using in its recent advertising campaign that debuted during the Superbowl with much fanfare and featured Eminem.
The campaign generated a lot of attention, both positive and negative. Naysayers immediately seized on the facts that (1) Chrysler’s world headquarters isn’t even located in Detroit (it’s 25 miles away in Auburn Hills) and (2) that the company is owned by Italian auto company Fiat.
A credibility gap is a problem at a time when we live in an advertising-saturated, dystopian authentocracy where virtually no trust remains in marketers. That 25-mile gap may as well be as far as the distance between the Earth and the Moon because corporations have fled downtown Detroit, leaving crushing economic repercussions and a lot of actual Detroit residents who are rightly wary of anyone claiming the Detroit identity (especially suburbanites living adjacent to the city in much more comfortable surroundings).
This is a great example of the new era of brand identity. For years, marketers and PR people have been trying to get companies to understand that the companies don’t own the brand – the public does. What the public says about your brand speaks louder than a two-minute Superbowl ad.
Chrysler had a fantastic opportunity to build credibility from the “Imported From Detroit” apparel, but unfortunately they opted to kill it because of outmoded notions of intellectual property and control over advertising.
A Detroit-based company that literally manufactures expression of style and culture had EMBRACED their ad campaign and wanted to circulate it among the public. Chrysler should have tripped over themselves to help Pure Detroit amp up their efforts; buying apparel and giving it away to employees or customers. Ceding a little bit of control over the brand would pay huge dividends in credibility and thusly spread the Chrysler message further.
“Pure Detroit” should counter-sue Chrysler for false advertising.