'Move to Detroit' is now a New York campaign, apparently

Detroit - for the people! #Detroit #billboard

A photo posted by Philip Kafka (Prince Media Co) (@philipkafka) on

Earlier this week, we wrote about billboards promoting the upcoming Detroit Thai restaurant Katoi appearing around New York City — along with an unattributed banner reading "Detroit: Just west of Bushwick."

Michigander-turned-New Yorker Nicole Disser also investigated the signs, and found that both the Katoi billboards and the "Detroit: Just west of Bushwick" banner were both created by Prince Media Co., a boutique billboard company owned by Katoi partner Philip Kafka.

Disser also noticed the phrase "MOVE TO DETROIT" spray-painted around New York City, including the Brooklyn Bridge. The phrase even spawned an Instagram hashtag, "#movetodetroit."

#Brooklynbridge #movetodetroit #nyc #shadow #snow

A photo posted by @siobhankiely88 on

She reached out to Kafka, asking him to elaborate on the billboards:

After visiting the the city a few years back, Kafka said he was drawn to Detroit. He began buying up real estate and employing “creative interests” there sensing that Detroit was a place that “wasn’t being appreciated or better yet taken advantage of,” he wrote in an email. “The intrinsic value in every other city has been TAKEN hostage by the MAN.”

As silly as this might sound coming from an ad exec, Kafka was serious. So why the billboard? “People in Bushwick are cool, they appreciate ideas and art,” he wrote, and as for Detroit, “there is plenty of space to live the way you want to live, work the way you want to work, it is the last frontier in America, and the creatives of Bushwick should consider it as a place to express their art.”

Is he actually trying to get young “creatives” to bid farewell to their overpriced, shoddily renovated boxes and move to Detroit? “All in all, we felt the people of Bushwick would see value in a non-commercial message about Detroit, and could also find value in Detroit………GO GO GO!”

It seems like New York artists are finally starting to take Patti Smith's 2010 advice to "find a new city." 

So could this be a grassroots movement protesting New York's high rents? Or a marketing campaign — disguised as a grassroots movement? Kafka at least seems to approve of the "Move to Detroit" graffiti on Instagram: 

We decided to e-mail Kafka and ask bluntly if he or Prince Media Co. were responsible for the graffiti.

"I own up to all legal and viable Pro Detroit propaganda," he wrote. "When you meet a graffiti artist who takes open and public ownership of their work... stay away... they are doing it for the wrong reason!"

Read the whole story here.

About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland “Lee” DeVito is the editor in chief of Detroit Metro Times since 2016. His writing has also been published in Hour Detroit, VICE, In These Times, and New City. He once asked porn star Stormy Daniels to spank him with an issue of Metro Times. She obliged...
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