The Best Work You May Never See: Doner Sends Message of Solidarity To Detroit During Coronavirus Pandemic


Robert Goldrich
Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2020


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With COVID-19 spreading in Michigan, ad agency Doner, headquartered in Detroit since the 1930s, chose to send a message of strength and resilience to its city in the form of its new video, When the Motor Stops.

Shot in black and white, the spot features typically populated portions of Detroit cleared out. Messages of solidarity appear on downtown marquees, including affirmations such as “We love you, Detroit” and “We will get through this together.” A voiceover acknowledges how unnatural the emptiness of the streets feels, especially for “the city on four wheels.” The entirety of the spot serves as a nod to Detroit’s heritage, with referencing including: “Even Henry [Ford] himself would have put it in park.” The voiceover affirms, “This is not us sitting out the fight. This is us winning it.” The video characterizes collective isolation as a sign of togetherness, closing out with the poignant spoken message that “Here, we don’t stop in the name of fear. Here, we stop in the name of love” before fading to text that reads “Stay safe, Detroit.”

Doner shot and produced this film over this past weekend--safely. The agency’s in-house director, Zeke Anders, shot solo, with the editor cutting and finished the film remotely from home--the same way the rest of Doner’s studio is working. The voice talent, Olivia Hill, recorded from her closet.


Agency Doner Zeke Anders, director; Michael Stelmaszek, Zeke Anders, Alex Demuth, creative team; Alex Demuth, strategy; Jon Moshier, Julian Whettlin, music. Voiceover Olivia Hill Script Michael Stelmaszek Production Jennie Hochthanner, Tony Del Bel, production; Low Lumens, musician.

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