Next month, GM’s Saturn division kicks off a new ad campaign. The slogan, “Like always, like never before” will replace “People First.” Saturn didn’t show the new ads at the New York auto show press preview when they were showing off the Saturn Aura and Outlook. Saturn eneral manager Jill Lajdziak says she felt the need to refresh advertising with all the new product coming online.
That new product couldn’t arrive too soon. In J.D. Power and Associates’ APEAL survey last year, which basically measures how customers rate the product they bought from the standpoint of design, execution, etc, Saturn ranked dead last. Last! Lower than Suzuki. Lower than Isuzu. Lower than Pontiac. Ouch. We’ll reserve judgement, of course, on the new campaign until we see the new work by San Francisco agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. But we can’t help thinking that Ms. Lajdziak and her team simply may not be making the most of one of the best ad agencies in the industry. If ever there was a brand inside GM that needs to establish an indelible brand positioning and advertising message, and stick with it, it’s Saturn. Blessed with more positive brand equity than it deserves after so many years of limp product, there is a remarkable amount of goodwill in the marketplace for Saturn that the company must sieze, protect and nurture with compelling and emotional advertising while it still lasts. My stink detector is already on guard, though, as the new slogan sounds to the ear like the title of a powerpoint presentation more than an enduring line of ad copy.