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Detroit Whole Foods Judged a Success


Photo by Amy Sacka

Marketers and business organizations in now-bankrupt Detroit are working to draw new businesses to the city by touting its burgeoning startup scene and increased real estate development. Detroit’s comeback efforts got a boost with the opening of a Whole Foods Market store in the city’s Midtown district on June 5 and last week, Austin, Tex.-based Whole Foods announced solid sales results for the Detroit store.

Sales at Whole Foods’ Detroit location, which has lower prices, fewer staffers, and more pre-packaged and frozen food to accommodate lower-income consumers, were “at least double what we expected it to do, and it’s off to a tremendous start [with] a super-diverse customer base,” David Lannon, executive vice president of operations at Whole Foods, told Supermarket News. The store opening was attended by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who said in a press release: “The opening of the first Whole Foods Market in Detroit is a game changer for our city. It … proves that Detroit is an attractive destination for national retailers.”

The city’s marketers still face many challenges. When Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18, the city had between $18 to $20 billion in debt, according to its state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. In June, The New York Times reported that the city could be forced to sell off its classic car collection to pay off that debt.

For more on how marketing is playing a role in Detroit’s comeback efforts, check out “Jump-starting the Motor City” in the July issue of Marketing News.

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Brands Go Ga-Ga for Royal Baby on Twitter

Just as they did during the April 2011 royal wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), marketers in the U.S. and Britain are capitalizing on public interest in the royal family’s latest milestone: the birth of the third heir to the throne on July 22.

Soon after the new prince was born, several brands took to Twitter with promotional tie-ins offering congratulations to the royal couple. Buzzfeed’s compilation of royal baby tweets includes a free dessert or side order promotion from Pizza Hut Inc.; “Little Lad” bibs for sale on the website of Geordie Shore, the British version of MTV reality show Jersey Shore; and a clay rendering of Kate and William holding their bundle of joy from Hasbro Inc.’s Play-Doh. While most tweets were on the playful (or cheeky) side, Procter & Gamble’s Pampers made an effort to tap into its customers emotions, tweeting a video showing babies at play, with the slogan, “Every baby is a little prince or princess,” and inviting parents to post photos of their babies on the Pampers Facebook page.

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Nike Releases Sustainability App

Sustainability is growing from a marketing buzzword to a strategic business goal, so over the past few years, apparel brands including Levi’s, Gap and Nike have created campaigns that highlight their companies’ efforts to save water and use sustainable materials.

The latest example is Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike Inc.’s “Making” app, a tool to help fashion designers create more sustainable apparel and help consumers see the environmental impact of material choices. The app, unveiled on July 2, ranks materials used in apparel based on four environmental impact areas—water, chemistry, energy and waste—using data from the Nike Materials Sustainability Index, a database that Nike has made public to help “lead industry sustainability efforts,” according to its press release.

For more on cause marketing initiatives, check out the July issue of Marketing News at


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The United States of Brands

Does your state have a signature brand? Last month, writer and graphic artist Steve Lovelace created a map, the Corporate States of America, that featured the most famous brand from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For example, Apple, Coca-Cola and Harley-Davidson put California, Georgia and Wisconsin, respectively, on Lovelace’s map.


The criteria are “subjective,” he said. Each brand must have ties to the state and must still be in business as of 2013. “I went with the company that I thought best represented the state, rather than the biggest or most notorious,” Lovelace said in his blog post. Thus, Dr. Pepper was chosen for Texas rather than ExxonMobil and Apple for California rather than Google or Facebook.

Do you agree with his picks? Leave your comments below.

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Motor City Could Be Forced to Sell Off Automotive Past

Over the past few years, business organizations in Detroit have worked to spark a comeback in the city by marketing its burgeoning startup scene and increased real estate redevelopment as value propositions to attract new businesses. The opening of a Whole Foods in the city’s Midtown district on June 5 also helped to raise the city’s profile.

But Detroit’s marketers are faced with some harsh economic realities. Detroit has 60,000 parcels of vacant land and 78,000 vacant buildings, a declining population and an estimated $17 billion in debt, according to a May report by its state-appointed emergency manager. To pay off that debt, the Motor City could auction off some of its automotive past: a collection of 62 classic cars managed by the Detroit Historical Society, The New York Times reported.

The collection, which includes a 1934 Chrysler Airflow, a 1960 Chevrolet Corvair, a 1919 Dodge coupe and a 1902 Oldsmobile runabout, could be sold if the city enters bankruptcy court, according to the Times. In May, there were rumors that Detroit’s billion-dollar collection at the Detroit Institute of the Arts also could be sold to pay off the city’s debts, but Michigan’s state senate passed a bill on June 11 banning the sale.

For more on how marketing is playing a role in Detroit’s comeback efforts, check out “Jumpstarting the Motor City” in the July issue of Marketing News, available next month at

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