Alas poor Detroit. A city teetering on the brink of receiving an emergency financial manager appointed by the state of Michigan run its affairs .A city that has become a poster child for ruin porn. A city Forbes magazine declared to be "America’s Most Miserable City." Yep, Motown is going through a rough patch. How, when, or if it bounces back remains to be seen.
Once upon a time, following the city’s first major waves of economic decline and population movement, there were jokes about “will the last person to leave Detroit please turn out the lights.” While that line currently reflects serious proposals to shut off half the city’s streetlights, back in the mid-1980s one TV station pushed that view aside. More than just a ploy to promote the station’s news team, WXYZ tried to make viewers feel optimistic a better future was around the corner.
They couldn’t have picked a better person to urge their audience to “stand up and tell ‘em you’re from Detroit” than anchorman Bill Bonds. He wasn’t a plastic person placed in front of a desk—Bonds was a hard living, opinionated, colourful personality who wasn’t afraid to offend whoever he was interviewing, even challenging mayor Coleman Young to a fistfight. A scrappy guy for a scrappy city.
If you’re of a certain age, how many WXYZ news personalities can you pick out in this ad? While the Boblo boats no longer ply the Detroit River, you can still visit other attractions in this spot, like Eastern Market and Greenfield Village.
While researching this post, I learned that the “Stand Up and Tell ‘Em You’re From…” campaign was used elsewhere. Were Adelaide or Brisbane, Australia in dire straits or rebound mode during the mid-1980s?
Advertisement taken the 1985 Detroit Tigers Scorebook Magazine.