muckraker report

‘We are Family?’ So proclaims Mercedes on 5-story-tall ad in downtown Detroit

This new advertisement was displayed to coincide with the North American International Auto Show. Photo by Steve Neavling.

This new advertisement was displayed to coincide with the North American International Auto Show. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled a bold new advertisement in downtown Detroit this week showcasing the German automaker’s new lineup of cars using the Motor City as the backdrop.

“We are family,” the advertisement proclaims, posted on a six-story building with vacant storefronts, boarded-up windows and graffiti at Washington and Michigan.

The advertisement was displayed on the neglected Gateway Center Building as tens of thousands of people are set to converge on downtown Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, which kicked off this week and runs until Jan. 25.

The familial relationship presumably is with Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler AG, which absorbed the one-time American company Chrysler.

Mercedes-Benz operates one U.S. plant in Alabama and has been aggressively opposing UAW efforts to unionize.

The UAW was founded in Detroit and is headquartered here.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Lee Gaylord

    Detroit has beautiful (or could be beautiful again) old buildings. I lived in 3 from the 20s. Met some good ghosts too.

  • dirtydog1776

    Nothing says prosperity in a city filled with decaying buildings, rusting cars and lots of drugs, like a poster touting a luxury car that only criminals and city bureaucrats (same thing) could afford.

  • Marc Krauter

    How about a family discount? :-D

  • Fergus

    QUOTE: The familial relationship presumably is with Mercedes’ parent company . . . END QUOTE

    Why is that the presumed relationship? I presume the family to be the four vehicles of several different types. I could of course be presuming incorrectly.

  • Fergus

    QUOTE on a six-story building with vacant storefronts, boarded-up windows and graffiti at Washington and Michigan. END QUOTE

    The billboard appears to be on the building where I used to take my burnt-out lightbulbs and exchange them for freebies from Detroit Edison. Maybe it should be converted to a Volt dealership.

  • maggiemay

    Exactly why is this a problem? Is it even newsworthy?

    • bebow

      It’s not a problem. It’s a symptom of a problem.

      • maggiemay

        What problem?

        • bebow

          See comment below.

  • bebow

    For the right price, anyone can write anything on our blank slate.

    • maggiemay

      It’s called “freedom of speech”. The same right that lets you post anything you want.

      • bebow

        Please yammer at someone else, maggie. That’s my free speech for the day.

  • Harry Palmer

    Also Mercedes mismanagement of Chrysler sent them into a tailspin and eventual bankruptcy, must be a dysfunctional “family”.

    • maggiemay

      Chrysler was in trouble long before Mercedes. In 1979 Iacocca went to the government for a loan. Chrysler was draggng Mercedes down, not vice versa. In 2007 Chrysler was sold to Cerberus and bailed out by the government in 2009. Now it’s owned by Fiat. Chrysler hasn’t been a healthy company in decades and it’s car quality is consistently lowest among the big three.

      • Harry Palmer

        “But the takeover has made things worse. Key managers have left; those who remained have been distracted by German meddling, and the much-vaunted savings from coupling the two companies in areas such as purchasing have not delivered enough. In truth, the companies did not merge: Daimler gobbled up Chrysler and has mismanaged it ever since. ”

        http://www.economist.com/node/393076

        • maggiemay

          Daimler hasn’t managed Chrysler at all since they sold it to Cerberus in 2007. The billboard has nothing to do with Chrysler. I think it’s meant to promote unity and honor the Detroit auto show. US companies advertise at foreign auto shows and no one has a problem with it. Let’s move on to some real problems instead of making a problem where there isn’t one.

      • karpodiem

        you are correct – pre-70s Chrysler was a contender, it was downhill after that. Fiat along with the old Chrysler was/is propped up by Jeep/formerly American Motors. The story remains the same since 1979.

      • http://www.gpforlife.com/ GP For Life

        “Chrysler hasn’t been a healthy company in decades and it’s car quality is consistently lowest among the big three.”

        Some favorite examples. An engineer friend who worked at Jefferson North. He used told me that God lived at the plant. I asked why he thought that, and he told me because every time a car rolls off the assembly line and starts, it’s a miracle.

        Another favorite is when one of the line apes got sick of hanging the driver’s side door correctly, he’d just take a speed wrench (that’s a hammer) and smack the door into the frame. This stressed the hinges, or something, and the driver’s side door was prone to falling off within months on new Jeep Grand Cherokees. It took months and countless hours to track down the problem. It came down to one dude, on one shift. UAW at its finest. Probably didn’t even get fired.

        When Chrysler and Daimler merged, there were considerable cultural problems, but at the end of their marriage, the company was definitely better managed. Cerberus had a real shot of a turn around, but they bought at the wrong time.

        Despite Cerberus’ fearsome name, they have a great track record and their head is known for his working class mentality. They make their money by buying distressed companies and turning them around.

        • maggiemay

          I’m sure the guy wasn’t fired. Just like the Chrysler workers caught on camera smoking pot and drinking while on break. The UAW made sure they kept their jobs. I hope Fiat has better luck, but I wouldn’t buy a Chrysler product. Quality is too iffy.

        • Harry Palmer

          “line apes”

          You stay classy, GP

          • http://www.gpforlife.com/ GP For Life

            I wake up in the morning and piss class.

    • http://www.gpforlife.com/ GP For Life

      You’re incorrect. Daimler continued a long tradition of mismanagement.

      • Harry Palmer

        Thanks for your numerous replies, but I think I’ll stay with the majority opinion of actual auto and business writers, who conclude that the Daimler take over was a disaster for Chrysler..

        • http://www.gpforlife.com/ GP For Life

          I’d agree that it was disaster from a cultural perspective, but I’d say the Germans did a better job managing the company. However, that was not a high bar.

        • dwight mannsburden

          anyone who’s actually interested in this should read “taken for a ride”, which is a fascinating read about the not-merger