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$200 Million Saturn Account
Date: Jan 30, 2007
Deutsch Scores $200 Million Saturn Account
General Motors has awarded its $200
million Saturn account to Deutsch,
LA. The loser in this move is
Goodby Silverstein & Partners,
San Francisco, which held the business since 2002.
Goodby is a top-flight agency, but never seemed to find its legs on
the Saturn account. It used three ad
taglines in in those five years. Campaigns seemed to careen from ads
with dreamlike and ethereal qualities to downright boring ad noise.
Saturn is a vital brand for GM as it is has demonnstrated a high degree
of acceptability among buyers of Asian imports. It gets cross-shopped
against Toyota, Honda and Hyundai more often than, say, Chevy or Pontiac
But while Goodby is paying the price for the lack of clear brand
direction, the Saturn client has to take a lot of blame as well. Saturn
general manager Jill Lajdziak has bene in charge of the brand all that
time, and going back before Goodby to when the work was produced by
Publicis/Hal Riney. The latest change in ad direction, which resulted in
the tagline, "Like Always. Like Never Before," which replaced "People
First" was pretty much dictated by Saturn.
Saturn has a rich ad history. The ads that launched the brand for GM
back in 1990 have been held up as worthy of study in business schools
alongside great car advertising for Volkswagen. Jeff Goodby has been so
frustrated on the account lately that a few months ago he met with the
retired Hal Riney to talk about ways of getting the brand back some of
its equity and glory through advertising. The agency about two months
ago presented work for this coming year. Deutsch will ramp up on the
Deutsch is being rewarded after two years of doing project work for
GM. The agency started out pitching the Pontiac account two years ago.
Not getting the assignment, Deutsch went on to get NASCAR advertising
for GM, and Major League Baseball related work for Chevy. Last summer it
was awarded the GM corporate ad account, and it launched GM's five-year,
100,000 mile warranty program with a series of TV ads showing flying
cars. This Sunday, it has a GM ad in the Super Bowl. Deutsch has also
been hatching a hybrid, alternative energy marketing plan--it named the
Chevy Volt, GM's plug-in electric car introduced this month at the
Detroit Auto Show--as well as a youth marketing strategy for GM. And now
the Saturn account.
Deutsch gets the Saturn account at a critial time for the brand.
While sales have been drifting downward in recent years, in large part
because GM did not give the division competitive products for more than
a decade, Saturn's lineup today is excellent.
The new Saturn Aura
sedan bested the redesigned Toyota Camry for North American Car of the
Year, a prestigious award voted on by auto journalists. The Saturn
Sky is a hot roadster
that is oversold. The new Saturn
Outlook crossover SUV has been extremely well reviewed by press,
including me, and can stand up wheel to wheel with Honda and Toyota
vehicles in every category, from performance to interior design. The
Saturn Vue SUV is an
under-achiever in a crowding market. And the Saturn
Ion compact, never well
received by the public or the press, will be replaced this Fall with a
much better small car, a version of GM's Opel
Astra from Europe.
With a great advertising legacy sadly absent for a decade, and with
terrific new product, now it will be Deutsch's turn to see if the agency
can sell work to GM that will take the brand to the next level.
The problem for Saturn and Goodby was that with the product lineup
already half-new, the division only managed a 6% increase in sales last
year. Saturn can do better, and should do better. Now, it will be
Deutsch's turn to see if the agency can sell work to GM that will take
the brand to the next level.