Update: We Won't See 'This Dumb Campaign Slogan' Again, Dan Gilbert Promises

July 24, 2017, 10:44 AM by  Alan Stamm

This flashpoint graphic was displayed by Bedrock on a high-rise's ground floor for one day.
(Facebook photo by Whitney Walker)

Someone in Gilbertland is in trouble with the boss about "this dumb campaign slogan" and partial graphic display.

"We screwed up badly," Dan Gilbert says after an online outcry over the insensitive Bedrock Detroit window display shown above. That company is the real estate division of the business group Gilbert chairs.

In a statement emailed to Deadline at 10:51 p.m. Sunday, Gilbert says just part of the vinyl banner installation was installed Friday at the Vinton Building, which Bedrock is renovating at Woodward Avenue and Congress Street. The rest, which he says shows more diverse faces, was to be installed early this week -- though the whole project is shelved now.

"We'll be better at this next time," adds Gilbert, who disavows the message displayed -- "See Detroit Like We Do." He says:

The slogan/statement we used on these graphics was tone-deaf, in poor taste and does not reflect a single value or philosophy that we stand for at Bedrock Development or in our entire family of companies. We have killed the "See Detroit As We Do" campaign.

Who cares how "we see Detroit"?!

Here's more from the 522-word response, posted here by Bedrock over Gilbert's name around 11 p.m. Sunday:

What is important is that Detroit comes together as a city that is open, diverse, inclusive and is being redeveloped in a way that offers opportunities for all of its people and the expected numerous new residents that will flock to our energized, growing, job-producing town where grit, hard-work and brains meld together to raise the standard of living of all of its people.

We immediately killed this dumb campaign slogan as soon as it was communicated more widely in our company. You won't be seeing that tagline anywhere again.

The full graphic package that was slated to be installed across all of the retail windows on the Vinton Building was a very inclusive and diverse set of images that reflects the population of the city that we do business in and also reflects the diversity among our own workforce in Detroit. . . .

Will take the feedback and lessons learned here to even further examine our content, processes and even installation schedules to improve in all that we do.

News of the response appeared earlier Monday morning at Crain's Detroit Business.

Original article, Sunday:

"What's the deal with the banner?" posts independent journalist Steve Neavling, referring to the now-removed window display above.

The vinyl graphic with a Bedrock Detroit logo at the bottom had been on one of the downtown developer's unoccupied storefronts at Woodward and Congress until it was taken down Saturday. 

It was visible long enough for at least three photos -- this one, a smaller scene of three panels and a black-and-white version -- to show up on Facebook. Reactions to the nearly all-white composite are predictable.

"Get a clue, Bedrock," Rene' Thomas posts on the social media site, where many dozens of objections appear. "This is totally unacceptable," says John E. Collins.

"I don't know what Detroit they're seeing," comments Renia Marie Hutson of Detroit.

At Motor City Muckraker, Neavling writes Sunday:

Many black and Latino residents are asking billionaire Dan Gilbert and his company today, “Is this really how you see Detroit?” . . .

In a city with a population that is more than 85% black and Latino, the banner raised questions about the leadership of a company that owns more than 90 buildings in downtown Detroit and is embarking on large loft projects in Brush Park and Eastern Market. The booming downtown real estate market . . . has drawn the largest influx of white residents to the city since the 1950s. . . .

According to city and company sources, . . . the banner was supposed to be part of a larger advertisement that included more diversity and stretched across the side of the building on Congress. But employees posted the offensive banner – the only one facing Woodward – and went home for the day. The other advertisements have since been erected, and the one facing Woodward has been taken down.

Neavling, whose 17-year journalism career includes six years as a Detroit Free Press reporter, speaks confidentially with an undisclosed number of city hall appointees who "said the advertisement was 'ill-conceived' and sent the wrong message about promoting diverse, inclusive Detroit." 

These are among social media posts this weekend:

  • On the days of the '67 rebellion, Bedrock displayed this photo of their idea of the New Detroit. As they say, what's wrong with this picture? -- Marsha Battle Philpot​, Detroit writer
  • It ain't gotta be me, but please get somebody that at least looks at this stuff and goes "that looks a little sketchy." There's nothing wrong with some outside eyes. -- Eric Thomas, Detroit brand strategist
  • "50 years after the uprising, they are taking the city back. It’s a clear statement. A line in the sand. A declaration of intent." -- Nadir Omowale, music producer, engineer and marketer
  • "See Detroit like we do." It says so much. -- Drea Anne, Detroit
  • This is what happens when there is no diversity in C-suite levels and in your marketing leadership, Quicken Loans and Bedrock Detroit. -- Deadra Rahaman, Detroit
  • They don't see black people in Detroit. -- Abed A. Ayoub, Washington, D.C. (legal and policy director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee)
  • I would hope to see a mea culpa statement come out about how completely insensitive this message is: "See Detroit Like We Do." Wow. -- Philip Rivera, Detroit
  • The more things change the more they stay the same. Sad, -- Nancy Ferguson, Detroit [from two posts]
  • So, I guess 85% of us are invisible. -- David Barton
  • A tale of two cities. -- Terry Tiplett
  • A lot of the '67 posturing has not changed! -- Jerry Flynn Dale, Detroit
  • Looks like an ad to say, "make Detroit white again." -- David E. Robinson III
  • This is no surprise. -- Annette Bell
  • You cannot make up how offensive this is. Important to find out who was responsible for this travesty and make them own it! -- Marie Tapert, Whitmore Lake [two posts]
  • Just heard that it was taken down. I still think it's important that they clearly understand what the problem is. -- Edub Walk
  • The severe lack of respect is palpable. -- Gary Schwartz 
  • To remove the image without any change of or conversation about the ideology that led to it being put there is pointless. -- Cynthia Ellis
  • Get a clue, Bedrock. 50 years later, really! -- Rene' Thomas

Read more:  Bedrock Detroit

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