Jeff Barrett is no stranger to publicity. In fact, it’s his business, and he’s good at what he does. It was no surprise then that the Michigan-themed lip dub* video he and partner Rob Bliss made for the popular Pure Michigan tourism campaign would attract 2 million views in only the ten short days it was live on YouTube.
But it was more than just page views that Jeff and team were after when they set out in a Chrysler-supplied 2012 Chrysler 200S for a fifty-city, seven-day journey across their home state of Michigan. They were also looking to showcase the people and personality of a state that is every bit the natural wonderland as it is a center for industry.
*For those who might not know, “lip dub” is a type of music video made by combining lip-synching and audio dubbing. For an example, watch the record-breaking Grand Rapids Lip Dub video, which Jeff also had a hand in producing.
Chrysler Forward Look: First things first. What were you hoping to communicate about Michigan and its people with a project of this kind?
Jeff Barrett: There were a couple of different things we were trying to accomplish. One of the things we were trying to do was to get awareness for the state and to showcase Michigan in the best way possible. We were also trying to show just how powerful this one little rallying point can be for the state. You’re not going to ever change a whole perception with one piece, but it was a nice starter piece to engage people more with the Pure Michigan campaign that they already know and love, to make it more personable. In that sense it was a very big success.
CFL: Do you think then that the point of the video, which presumably starred all Michigan citizens, was to expose non-Michiganders to the beauty of the state? Or was it ultimately for the benefit of people who live here, to reinforce their pride so to speak?
Jeff Barrett: That’s a good question. It’s for both, I think. It’s for people outside of Michigan, but it’s utilizing the collective engagement of people willing to promote their own state. In many ways, the video was about everything the state has to offer. It’s not just one thing, not just this, not just that. We tried to show as many things as possible with this project.
Visiting fifty cities in seven days is ambitious. But you’ll never come close to showing everything you could possibly show. But it’s closer, it’s getting there. You’re hoping that everyone will see at least one thing they can relate to or recognize. With this Pure Michigan project, you’re trying to create something that someone living here will recognize, but also something that somebody living outside the state will say, yeah, okay, that’s great.
CFL: How did you come to decide that a Chrysler vehicle was right for this trip?
JB: Well, Chrysler was a tremendous partner and was very willing to help along the way, and that was fantastic. We are still very appreciative of that. And then, of course, we were well aware of the success of the Imported from Detroit campaign. Our goals matched up with Chrysler’s in this regard. We’re both trying to do a lot to shift the conversation about the state of Michigan. So that made Chrysler a perfect partner. And the car itself was fantastic.
CFL: Speaking of the car, the Chrysler 200, what did you think of it? Did it matter to you that it’s actually made within the city of Detroit?
JB: Correct. We didn’t want a car that was not made in Michigan. From a standpoint of comfort, we were able to put four guys and all our equipment in the car. It’s terrific that we were able to pull that off in a sedan. Obviously we could pack light because of the technology and smaller equipment we were using, but still, to get it all in the car and to be comfortable — and to have the air-conditioning kick on immediately — those things were really helpful.
The sound system and touch navigation and everything else were an absolute dream. We didn’t have any issues finding where we were going, which was key. You do not want to screw up with that kind of a schedule. Nav was great. Handling was great. When we needed a little extra boost and needed to get above the speed limit, we were definitely able to do it — I’m not advising that, but we were definitely able to do it. It’s a tremendous car.
CFL: Is there any specific memory or experience that sums up the whole trip?
JB: Yes. Flint. When we showed up in Flint, we were pretty excited. We decided to actually turn the song on when we arrived. It wasn’t the first time that anybody had actually closed off the streets for us, and it wasn’t the largest crowd we saw on the trip, but it was the largest crowd that we were actually able to drive right through. I got to drive the car while we had the camera guy in the trunk to film the scene, and it was just a thrilling experience.
You hear all kinds of negative things about Flint, and not without reason, but then you get there and you understand that there are a lot of people that take a lot of pride in this city and want good things to happen there. We got the best possible slice of Flint that day. And we were so excited to see that and to experience that. We were pretty humbled that they were all there because of what we were doing.
CFL: Great story. Thank you for sharing it and for talking with us today.
JB: Thank you.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, due to rights issues, Jeff and team had to take down the video generated from their epic trip. Still, Jeff believes they accomplished their goal. An extraordinary number of people were exposed to another story and another side of Michigan, perhaps one that until now they were not aware existed.