Detroit Shows Amazon how to “Move the World”
Detroit is a city always on the go. Best known as the heartland of the modern automotive industry and surrounded by the beauty of the Great Lakes, Detroit is also home to one of the fastest-growing STEM clusters in the country. It was recently named a Forbes Top 10 Most Affordable City, and is the birthplace of techno and Motown. From innovation and nature to affordability and culture, Detroit has it all.
That was the city’s pitch to Amazon as the world’s largest online retailer searches for a city to locate its second headquarters. Detroit’s video proposal, Move Here. Move the World>, was delivered in just two weeks thanks to a collaborative effort involving many talented individuals, design-led companies, and Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise.
Bringing business and creative minds together
Shortly after Amazon released its request for bids on September 7, 2017, Detroit mayor Mike Duggan secured Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rock Ventures, to chair the bid committee. Gilbert brought with him all of the resources from his family of companies, including Bedrock, a full-service commercial real estate firm that has invested heavily in urban Detroit; and Quicken Loans Media House, the in-house marketing arm of the nation’s second-largest mortgage lender, Quicken Loans.
With a two-week deadline and the same level of tenacity that helped drive the state’s fiscal recovery, a pitch to attract the e- commerce giant to Detroit was hatched. And it all centered on video.
“The world is powered by storytelling, and video and film are the most effective forms of storytelling we have today, particularly when paired with the reach and power of social and digital media platforms,” explains Nick Perold, vice president of marketing at Bedrock. “We wanted Amazon to understand the beauty of Detroit, and film is really the best way to capture the essence of the city.”
Assembling the best of Detroit
Perold brought in champion storyteller Stephen McGee, an Emmy award-winning filmmaker and Detroit transplant, to oversee filming and production.
“The thing about Detroit is it’s always on my mind, no matter where I drive or what I’m doing,” says McGee. “Having been here for 12 years, I have this constant running list of locations and ideas that just needed a motivating factor to connect them all within a story. When you live inside the story you tell, it’s easy to start putting all of these shots together.”
In addition to a short timeline and coming up with a tight storyline that would showcase all of the great things about the city in an under-four-minute video, the team was tasked with getting access to footage from some of the world’s largest companies—Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, to name a few. Where this didn’t exist, they had to go out and shoot it. That meant sorting out schedules and logistics for renting highly-specialized equipment, as well as putting helicopter crews on notice for aerial shots.
As a result, most of the video was shot three days before the deadline. Also still on the to-do list? Finalizing the voice-over narration and creating a musical track.
But McGee wasn’t worried. Back at Quicken Loans Media House, state-of-the-art editing suites awaited him—all powered by Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise, including Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Race to the finish
Once all of the footage was shot, the team had 12 hours to edit the video.
“The great thing about Adobe Creative Cloud is that we had access to our own rich library of video footage that we could call on and place into the film on demand, which saved a huge amount of time,” says McGee.
It also helped that the Quicken Loans Media House had everything a creative could possibly need, in close proximity. All of Quicken Loans’ marketing content is created in-house by hundreds of talented professionals, so the Quicken Loans Media House facility had the bandwidth and skill to support the project.
“You can walk 20 feet to record a voice over and then walk back to an editing suite and start editing immediately,” says Ryan Mulvaney, studio manager at Quicken Loans Media House. “The night before it was due, there were four people editing simultaneously thanks to the collaborative capabilities of Adobe Creative Cloud and Premiere Pro.”
As the clock ticked, the team continued to cut the video and even did the color correction using the Lumetri Color panel in Premiere Pro. “I had to edit so quickly, there was no time for shutdowns, failed project files, or missing assets,” says McGee. “The strength of Adobe Creative Cloud is its dependability in these types of situations. It makes the difference between a failed project and a film that people share.”
Following a long night, the video was completed and submitted on deadline. A true passion project for all involved, the video is the feature element of the website www.detroitmovestheworld.com. Created by the Detroit office of the digital agency HUGE, the site details the city’s vision for the future and includes sights from around Detroit and recent news and articles across a variety of topics. As an Adobe Strategic Partner and member of SoDA, HUGE was happy to participate in the effort to showcase everything Detroit has to offer.
Now Detroit—along with the other 237 cities and regions across the United States, Canada, and Mexico that submitted bids—waits for a decision from Amazon.
“We want to move Amazon the way we move the world,” says Perold, with a nod to Detroit’s automotive roots. “We hope Amazon falls in love with Detroit, just like we all have.”
Follow Stephen McGee’s work on Instagram @stephen_mcgee.