Posted by: David Kiley on February 26, 2007
I have been complaining for months, if not years, that General Motors’ Saturn brand was groping for a clear voice in its advertising. Last month, the GM division fired an excellent agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, and hired another excellent agency, Deutsch/LA in the hopes of ending the grope.
What a difference a month makes. Deutsch’s first work for Saturn debuted on last night’s Academy Award telecast. A simple and wonderfully executed idea, the ad spotlighted the fact that the Aura sedan won the prestigious North American Car of the Year award, beating out the new Toyota Camry no less. The ad shows Aura customers who bought the car before the award was announced opening up a box with the award inside. Huh? Saturn, it seems, is sending the award around to a number of customers with the idea that after a period of time, they will send it on, with Saturn paying the postage, so another customer can house it for a brief time.
The idea fosters the sense of community Saturn’s loyal customers have felt over the years. It also reminds me of the way championship NHL teams allow each member of the team to have a turn keeping the Stanley Cup in their homes during the course of the year.
The ad and the idea is successful because it returns Saturn to the tonality it enjoyed during its launch some 16 years ago—-a car, and a brand for and about real people, and community. Another reason I like it is that it gives Saturn a hook on which to hang a very important, in the auto industry, award. It gives the award some context and a reason for Saturn owners or would-be owners a reason to check out what the award is about.
Saturn marketers have been conflicted about its wholesome, almost folksy past and the modern Euro-design direction it is now taking. Though it’s just one spot, I thought Deutsch’s Oscar ad nailed it.