Packed-Room Topic at South By Southwest in Austin: #DetroitNow

March 10, 2014, 6:25 PM by  Alan Stamm

Detroit was a lively discussion topic Monday afternoon at the South By Southwest interactive conference in Austin, where a local adman led a pep rally promoting the city as a career-builder.

Iain Lanivich, digital group creative director at Lowe Campbell Ewald, leads Monday's discussion. (Instagram photo by Ted Serbinski)

Iain Lanivich, digital group creative director at Lowe Campbell Ewald, led a discussion called "We're Moving to Detroit, and So Should You" -- also the title of a video (below) that pitched the topic to conference organizers and attendees. The agency's roughly 500 employees moved downtown from Warren in January. 

Lanivich framed his presentation, aimed at designers, entrepreneurs and investors, as a forum "about how we can work together to make Detroit a thriving brand." 

"Not every city has a brand," a tweet quotes him as saying at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin. "Detroit does."

Speakers included Jim Shanley, managing director of  of Picnic New Media; "business anthropologist" Marlo Rencher; and Marlin Page, an IT executive who founded a Detroit career training program called Sisters Code.

Marlin Page, a local tech executive and speaker, wore a Detroit Snob shirt.

As no stranger to buzz-building, the moderator created a #detroitnow wall of tweets about his session. These are among quotes, paraphrases and comments:

• "Great talk. I'm not a Detroit native, but love the idea of its energy, DIY mentality and close-knit community!"  --Jeff Soyk, Boston designer

• "10 years from now #detroitnow will be an amazing city -- do you want to be part of that transformation? Never been to Detroit -- need to go, esp. after inspirational #detroitnow talk" -- Rhiannon Hughes, Lowe and Partners media analyst in London (from two tweets)

• "Very inspirational presentation on Detroit." -- Ben Kartzman, CEO of Spongecell, a New York ad technology firm

• "So much passion for the city. Great to see so much enthusiasm and positive energy for one of the fastest-growing startup ecosystems in the US"  -- Zoë Lazarus, partner at London consumer research consultancy (from 2 tweets)

• "Real social entrepreneur spirit happening in Detroit."  -- Whitney E. Drake, senior vice president at Weber Shandwick in Birmingham (PR/communications agency)

• "#DetroitNow meet up showing the growing start up and tech opportunities for Detroit. Determination and grit!"  -- Jesse Missad, New York digital ad executive

• "Standing room only for this cool rah-rah session for Detroit." -- Marlo Rencher, Detroit "social entrepreneur and anthropologist" 

Lanivich's listing in the annual conference's program frames it this way:

Despite what you might read in the media, Detroit is quickly becoming rich in creativity, innovation and inspiration. In fact, Detroit was one of seven North American cities selected to be part of Google’s Tech Hub Network, and with tech investors like Detroit Venture Partners, it's becoming easy for startups to create opportunities.

And in Detroit, everything needs help, so there are endless opportunities. With a "we're all in this together" mentality, everyone is becoming friends and utilizing their skills to not only help one another, but define Detroit's future. Whether you're a designer, an innovator, an entrepreneur or an investor, the talent is moving to Detroit. And so should you.

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