On the creative floor: Lowe Campbell Ewald Detroit

Many have questioned the logic behind moving back to Detroit, a city that is bankrupt, but Mark Simon argues that the decision has injected life back into the way employees work.


When I was first hired at Lowe Campbell Ewald 14 years ago (then Campbell Ewald), I was asked what was the single thing we could do to improve our culture.

Staring out over a sea of grey cubicles, 70s marble conference-room tables and a hallway filled with oil paintings of past chief executives nicknamed the Hall of Presidents, the answer seemed pretty clear.
"We need to move."

So, after nearly four decades in the suburbs, we moved 500 people back to the place where the agency started 103 years ago: Detroit.

The effect has been nothing short of transformative.

Some questioned the logic of moving to a city that has declared bankruptcy. But, despite the ongoing chess game that continues between the state, the city and its creditors, the people of Detroit are doing amazing things. They’re working together to build things, to make things, to breathe life back into the city we love and, for some, the city they adopted.

Our space reflects the way we work: inclusive, collaborative and without boundaries. The move has injected vibrancy and energy back into the agency and back into the way we work.

Our Lowe Campbell Ewald Lab serves as an incubator for tech start-ups that helps our clients and our city. Proof that creativity and innovation can overcome enormous challenges.

That’s the theme of the presentation we’re doing in Cannes on 20 June, entitled: "Detroit: Reboot City".

It’s about how ideas can transform our communities and our cities. The moderator is Jose Miguel Sokoloff, the chief creative officer of Lowe SSP3 Colombia, who knows a thing or two about the subject, and the legendary Detroit DJ and producer Carl Craig.

A year of intense planning went into the design of our space. Everything works as planned, with one exception. We have an area we call the tree house. You use the same ladder to go up as you do to come down. The drawback is that you can’t climb a ladder with a cup of coffee and a laptop. Some have tried. Most have failed. We need to fix that.

Mark Simon is the chief creative officer at Lowe Campbell Ewald