The newspaper industry lagged the performance of all the other traditional media in 2011. Kantar Media, an independent market research firm, reports that television ad sales last year rose 2.4%, magazine sales fell 0.4% and radio sales slipped 0.6%.
The only category where sales increased at newspapers in 2011 was digital, where revenues grew 3.1% in the fourth quarter and 6.8% for the 12 months to produce $3.2 billion in annual sales.
In other words, Rust Belt branders have their work cut out for them. One need only to examine the history of Cleveland’s branding campaigns to know this is the case. All in all, it has been a bit of a mess, with the coalescing of a Cleveland brand as about as defined as the centering of Cleveland’s own top booster Drew Carey, who himself has gone from Warsaw Tavern dude to one shimmy away from Dancing with the Stars. To that end, the success of any city brand campaign is dependent on how you go about it. That is: Are you trying to be a thing or are you being it? The distinction is important, as nobody likes a fake, especially when the “brand” of the Rust Belt is about being as real as possible
Yet Eastwood seems to have arrived at a similar place as Springsteen. Eastwood’s Super Bowl ad for Chrysler sounded like a script from The West Wing—or even (God forbid) an ad for Barack Obama. Ramrod straight, Eastwood strides through the half-light and defiantly snarls that the dimness is a new dawn, not dusk. “People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re gonna do to make a comeback … The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now the Motor City is fighting again.”