For years, there has been much debate in Edmonton about how we make our city well-known and world class. Better slogans, new tag lines, shiny new arenas and buildings, and hosting international events are what many think will make this city better in the eyes of those who don’t live here (and, in the eyes of those who do).

It was refreshing to see this ad, run during Super Bowl 2011, that was technically about a vehicle but was really a candid take on the perceptions of the city of Detroit. Now I haven’t been to Detroit, I have only seen it from across the Detroit River.  But we have all heard the stories and the stats that lead most to think of Detroit in a not so favourable light.

What made this ad resonate wasn’t that it included Eminem, fresh on the comeback trail.  It works so well because it is authentic. It didn’t try to sugar coat the Motor City into being something we all know it isn’t. It confronted perceptions and beliefs head on.  It was a simple, genuine description of their story, what makes their city great, told their way with real honesty.

So as Edmonton, and every other hard working city trying to make a name for itself, continues to muse about how to make itself appear great in the eyes of others, maybe we should take a lesson from this ad.  What makes a city great?  It’s people. Authenticity. Being real. Maybe it’s finally time to embrace who we really are as a city and stop trying to add layers to cover up our true self.