Oscar-winning 'Green Book' director thanks Shinola for 'saving Detroit'

Detroit got a surprising shoutout during the Oscar ceremony Sunday night when Green Book director Peter Farrelly plugged Shinola in his thank you speech for Best Original Screenplay.

Though it had been panned by critics for its tone-deaf depiction of race in America, the film swept the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali's portrayal of celebrated pianist Don Shirley.

It was in Farrelly's thank you speech for Best Original Screenplay, however, that left many – especially Detroiters – confused.

In the speech, Farrelly thanked a laundry list of supporters before concluding with "and Shinola watches – unbelievable, they're saving Detroit!"

Sure, Shinola has had a sizeable imprint on Detroit since the brand launched in 2011. The luxury goods retailer can boast its contribution to Detroit manufacturing jobs, the opening of a retail location in Cass Corridor, and most recently transforming a block of Woodward Avenue into the newly minted Shinola Hotel and its adjacent retailers and restaurants.

However, Shinola's roots as an authentic Detroit brand is something that has been highly contested as elaborate "marketing theater." In 2017, University of Michigan professor Rebekah Modrak analyzed how the company used Detroit and racial tropes like the "white savior" in its marketing for her project Rethink Shinola.

Following the acceptance speech, Twitter reacted to the notion that Shinola is Detroit's savior, including opinions from residents, artists, and politicians.

This morning Shinola released a statement distancing itself from Farelly's comments.

This isn't Farrelly's first plug for Shinola, however. In Farelly's 2014 film Dumb and Dumber To, a Shinola retail booth is a prominently featured product placement.

As for this Oscar shoutout, sponsorship analyists Joyce Julius & Associates estimate a hefty marketing kickback for Farrelly's Shinola comment.

You can watch Peter Farrelly's full acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay below.

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