Chrysler's tag line "Imported from Detroit" became immortal when Eminem prowled the streets of Detroit in a Chrysler 200 while a tough-sounding voice-over challenged the viewer: "What does this city know about luxury? What does a town that's been to hell and back know about the finer things in life? ... When it comes to luxury, it's as much about where it's from as who it's for."
Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss was watching that commercial, first broadcast during the 2011 Super Bowl, and it inspired him to take another look at his hometown. The result is his new book, Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story.
Maraniss discovered in his research that another car company almost took the "Imported from Detroit" mantle -- in 1964.
In the early days of product planning for the debut of the then-unnamed Ford Mustang at the World's Fair in 1964, a working name for the car was Torino. The creative team of the ad agency J. Walter Thompson suggested using a campaign that described it as a "brand new import ... from Detroit ... inspired by Italy's great road cars, but straight from Detroit."
The idea was nixed and Torino dropped, Maraniss writes, because Henry Ford II was in the midst of a divorce, and the gossip columns paired him with an Italian divorcee, Cristina Vettore Austin (whom he later married). The connection to all things Italian could lead to "bad publicity" and gossip.
So goodbye, Torino (for now), and hello, Mustang!