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‘We screwed up,’ says Dan Gilbert about ‘See Detroit Like We Do’ ad on Vinton Building

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A vinyl graphic ad with all-white faces posted by Bedrock on the Vinton Building, a high-rise at Woodward and Congress, over the weekend touting “See Detroit Like We Do” caused a social media stir, and resulted in an apology from Bedrock Chairman Dan Gilbert on the Bedrock Facebook page.

Gilbert says the graphic was only a part of the  installation. The finished product would have looked significantly different and “would have reflected a very diverse and inclusive assembly of pictures consistent with our city,” he says.

“The graphic that was completed Friday was, unfortunately, not diverse or inclusive when looked at by itself,” he says. “The remaining graphics were scheduled to be installed and completed early this upcoming week.”

He says Bedrock has cancelled the campaign.

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We congratulation Gilbert for quickly responding to the issue, and we want to share his words with you.

“We screwed up badly the graphic package that was partially installed on the retail windows of the first floor of the Vinton Building, in downtown Detroit, a structure we have been rebuilding for over two years and is nearing completion.

We messed up in two major ways:

  1. Although not intended to create the kind of feelings it did, 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”?!

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.

  1. 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.

We became the city’s largest employer of Detroiters because diversity and inclusion are core fundamental values to our entire mission of helping to grow Detroit’s population, driving job growth, and increasing economic opportunity for all.

This past Friday, the installers of the graphic package put up just a portion of the entire installation. The graphic that was completed Friday was unfortunately, not diverse or inclusive when looked at by itself. The remaining graphics were scheduled to be installed and completed early this upcoming week.

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Here’s what the rest of the ads would have looked like.

As soon as we realized on Saturday that the partial installation would completely distort our vision for the finished project, we removed it so it would not cause further misinterpretation and confusion.

I have included an image of the full graphic package that was scheduled to be installed on the Vinton Building.

In other words, this is how it would have looked when it was completed.

As you can see, the full graphic arrangement would have reflected a very diverse and inclusive assembly of pictures consistent with our city, all of our companies’ work force and the strong values that have always been at the very foundation of our businesses.

Even though the above final product would have been in line with our strong beliefs that all of our advertising and marketing reflect the communities where we do business and our work force, we have still tabled this particular campaign and 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.

We’ll be better at this next time.”

Dan Gilbert Chairman Bedrock Rock Ventures

– Pictures from the Bedrock Facebook page

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