“Detroit is going to be on the cover of TIME magazine three, four, five, ten years from now as a miracle city.  It is all because of what we do.” – Dan Gilbert, Chairman, Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans is branding itself and completely repositioning Detroit’s image.  The company is doing it without insulting anyone else, sounding pitiful, begging or apologizing for a thing.  Plus, it is just an extension of what seems to be a Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is policy.

Look for the new Quicken Loans ads on television.  They are examples of awesome corporate citizenship.  In addition to selling their product, they are setting a tone of civic success that is subtle but powerful.  In “The Proposal”, there are views through the penthouse restaurant windows revealing a strong city skyline.  Initially I thought it was Toronto (my wife loves it when I play the guess the skyline game).  But a closer look reveals Detroit’s Comerica Tower.


Also look for “Quicken Loans Careers: There’s More To Us Than You Think”.  Seriously.  Look at that ad!  The Detroit Chamber of Commerce should fire their entire marketing department and just start running with this.  This is a creative place.  This is a technological place.  This is a place with other great people.  It is also a diverse place and a proud place and seems to be overflowing with opportunity.  I felt all of this in a one-minute commercial.

I don’t think that feeling came from the requisite rooftop coffee break scene, ping-pong table conference space or casual work attire that has been popular since, well, a couple bubbles ago.  I think that feeling came from a subtle hint that these people might really believe what they are saying.  Maybe because the one and only vague reference to Detroit was tying the bow on some of the most fantastic imagery ever put into an employment ad.

The ads inspired me to do a Google search of Quicken Loans Detroit.  The first result was the official company site.  Second was company careers.  Third was the Wikipedia entry.  Then it got interesting.

The next entry was a news story about Quicken welcoming Chrysler to Downtown Detroit.  Chrysler has just leased 20,000 square feet in the heart of the Motor City.  This equates to less than a floor and a half in Memphis’s One Commerce Square.

The fifth result was a news story about Quicken topping the list of top workplaces for the second year in a row followed by two stories about the company hiring 1,000 more Downtown workers this summer and an 8-minute “Discovering Downtown” video.

Come to find out, Quicken has moved 4,000 to 5,000 employees into Downtown Detroit over the last year or two.  More if you count the affiliates that came along with them.  Quicken Chairman Dan Gilbert recently purchased the 500,000 square foot Chase Tower.  This is one of several Downtown properties housing the Quicken empire.

No new construction.  No greenfield development.  No parking lots.  No fences or gates.  Only restoration of building after building built for companies who moved on to pastures leaving the city behind.

I then contrasted this with a Google search of Chrysler Detroit.  The first result was the Eminem Superbowl ad.  The next two were the Clint Eastwood Superbowl ad followed by the Imported from Detroit ad.  Then the official company site and four stories about the 20,000 square foot move Downtown.

I have never liked the Chrysler ads.  I find them condescending to outsiders and degrading to those in Detroit.  Why?  Because I don’t believe them.  It’s hard to explain.  They feel contrived.

That is why I took notice of Quicken Loans.  I think I believe those ads because they aren’t selling me on Detroit or trying to sell me something from Detroit.  They just happen to be in Detroit.  I think the top-down mentality is one of success… success in Detroit.

“Detroit is going to be on the cover of TIME magazine three, four, five, ten years from now as a miracle city.  It is all because of what we do.”

Dan Gilbert said this not to customers, clients, suppliers or prospects but to his employees… the real Detroiters.  He said it after moving thousands of people into the city and buying over a half million square feet to grow into.  I think they believe it and it just comes across in other things they do.