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If Saturn had the same marketing backing as Chevrolet, then Saturn can get exposure.

If people are "unaware" that these new cars are "Saturn," then there is something inherently wrong with GM's marketing of these vehicles!
Once the "new face" of Saturn debuted, then a marketing campaign to introduce it to America should have been launched and appropriately measure to judge its effect. Didn't GM do this? If it didn't work, then what's the next step to rectify the situation?

Bringing Opel BACK to the US after almost 40 years is a complete waste of time.

There is also nothing wrong with the Saturn lineup -- except the Outlook. It's inappropriate. And the VUE Redline -- no improvement on HP. So why call it a Redline?

Saturn is the one division that has its product lineup firing on all cylinders. It's GM's impotent marketing that has failed Saturn.
 

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Can anyone really tell me that Saturn is a case of how best to handle an automotive division?!?
"Division"... that's part of GM's problem.

Saturn was run independent (well sorta) of GM's other divisions in its early years. Even today, most buyers aren't aware that Saturn is a GM product. That is to Saturn's advantage in regional markets where GM, or domestics in general, have a poor image.

People argue that Saturn isn't the Oldsmobile of the new millenium as I call it. But the day GM folded Saturn into its bureaucratic largesse is the day they turned it into Oldsmobile.

Saturn sold like hotcakes in the early years because its warm, fuzzy image connected the buyer with the product. When that image faded, so did Saturn.

Saturn need something though. The Astra's tanking badly (just as I said it would) and the entire Saturn lineup can't even match the old S-series' annual sales volume.

Why Saturn even exists today baffles me. It was created in the early 80s as nothing more than a testbed for GM to apply new concepts in manufacturing, design, and marketing. Well those concepts are universal these days, save Saturn's unique pricing scheme, so what's Saturn's purpose?

Are Saturn selling Opels merely to justify its existence? Or does GM seriously want the US to be an outlet for Opel products? It's arguable that GM would be better off just using the Opel name. Opels are taut, intelligent Teutonic cars. Saturns are sensible little plastic cars bought by grannies or by baby-boomers to send their kids off to college in. The two are chalk and cheese.

I'm an admitted Europhile, so of course I enjoy the thought of more affordable European products being available here. But I'm a minority in a market that seems to be propped up solely by ******* family trucksters and bland Camcords that reflect the soul-less ennui of the suburbia where most call home. I think Opels, no matter what they're called, are doomed to failure on the American market.

GM should have canned Saturn years ago.
 

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I've never heard that Olds was cheaper to kill. It seems it would be more expensive with the more dealers. Is it because Saturn stores were/are usually independent?
There were very few independant Oldsmobile dealers that GM had to fully buy out. Most of them were Chev Olds and often Cadillac. Losing one of 3 or more brands is not such a big deal, especially when the partner is Chevrolet. Virtually all Saturn stores in the US were independant. In Canada they were paired with Saab and Isuzu at the time and those brands are not high volume sellers.

Canyonaro said:
This last weekend I test drove...a Sky Turbo X.
A what? :confused: I think you mean a Sky RedLine, because there is no such thing as a Sky Turbo X to the best of my Saturn knowledge. :think:

mgescuro said:
If people are "unaware" that these new cars are "Saturn," then there is something inherently wrong with GM's marketing of these vehicles!
Once the "new face" of Saturn debuted, then a marketing campaign to introduce it to America should have been launched and appropriately measure to judge its effect. Didn't GM do this?
Sure they did. But they did it a little late and highlighted their lack of introduction with the campagin itself...don't you remember? "That's a Saturn?" :eek: :rolleyes:
 

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It's GM's impotent marketing that has failed Saturn.
and Oldsmobile, and Pontiac, and Buick, and Cadillac, etc etc etc.

How can a company this big and influential basically FORGET how to sell their main product?
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Well there's something clearly wrong with Saturn. It's so sad that one of the freshest, most likeable lineups in the industry isn't creating a stir. I can get that with the smallish number of dealerships that they're not going to sell in Chevrolet / Ford / Toyota numbers... but they should be growing, and should be ahead of where they were a decade ago with only a few models.
 

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Sure they did. But they did it a little late and highlighted their lack of introduction with the campagin itself...don't you remember? "That's a Saturn?" :eek: :rolleyes:
And then what did they follow it up with? Nothing. All of a sudden, you got the "Rethink" campaign... which had to be revised...
Even using the vaunted Donny Deutch... GM and Saturn somehow stumbled...

The issue here is that Saturn is the one GM division that has effected a complete turnaround. 100% new product line. Totally new face. Best reputation with consumers. Not tied to the GM legacy junk. And using one of the biggest names in advertising, still didn't get the word out?

Saturn was all in and had a straight flush. And somehow got beat.

Something just doesn't add up. I don't know where. But it just doesn't add up.
 

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And then what did they follow it up with? Nothing. All of a sudden, you got the "Rethink" campaign... which had to be revised...
Even using the vaunted Donny Deutch... GM and Saturn somehow stumbled...

The issue here is that Saturn is the one GM division that has effected a complete turnaround. 100% new product line. Totally new face. Best reputation with consumers. Not tied to the GM legacy junk. And using one of the biggest names in advertising, still didn't get the word out?

Saturn was all in and had a straight flush. And somehow got beat.

Something just doesn't add up. I don't know where. But it just doesn't add up.
  • Small number of dealers.
  • Majority of previous owners have moved on(already lost the upsale).
  • Original campaign resonated with younger buyers, particularly females. New campaign resonates with.....
  • No longer different, or special dealer experience.
  • No one knows and more importantly, no one cares.....

Question: Did GM create Saturn dealerships with all the same strings as the older dealerships(Franchise Laws). I had it in the back of my mind that they didn't and so there wouldn't be the same problems getting rid of the brand....
 

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A few years ago, Saturn had some cleaver ads. Their "Like Always, Like never Before" and "Retink" were really cool, but now....nothing.
 

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I had a feeling it wouldn't work either.

Saturn should have kept its direction. And this is another good time to add, that they should have kept Oldsmobile :cool:
 

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And then what did they follow it up with? Nothing. All of a sudden, you got the "Rethink" campaign... which had to be revised...
Ya, it was Rethink American...until t hey realized the VUE was going to be built in Mexico (though, technically part of North America) and their new compact was being imported from Belgium...whoops.
Even using the vaunted Donny Deutch... GM and Saturn somehow stumbled...
Who??

Seriously this time. I have no idea who that is. :confused:
 

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Seriously this time. I have no idea who that is. :confused:
Deutsch is chairman of Deutsch Inc, one of the largest advertising companies in the country. Well known too.

Saturn has had a great history of using the best in the business -- Hal Riney for the original Saturn ad campaign.... then Goodby Silverstein.... (both powerhouse SF advertising companies).... and now Deutsch....

Saturn could not have had better advertising companies backing it. At this point, even Chiat Day couldn't work its wonders on Saturn.

Something else is amiss....
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Saturn had 286,000 small-car fans in 1994. Saturn totally revamped their lineup, with a small car (Astra) as an afterthought. Sales are down 15%. Maybe Saturn wasn't the brand to try this with. It was a small-car brand that was moderately succesful. Maybe it should have stayed a small-car brand.

What GM has done with Saturn would be comparable to introducing a Matiz, Aveo, and Lacetti as Buicks in North America. Buick isn't a full-line brand, and certainly isn't a small car brand. Buick's customers expect to go to Buick and find big, roomy, near-luxury vehicles... they would be shocked to show up at a Buick dealership and only find economy cars, or all trucks, or exotic sports cars. It might just be that Saturn buyers were right, and that Saturn buyers don't want a full lineup, or at least want small, affordable cars.

Can a brand change? Of course. But was Saturn the brand to pour so much money into to try and force this change? For me it's quite simple:

Saturn is relatively unknown.
The few people that know Saturn know it for its small-car beginnings.
These people don't want larger, more expensive cars and SUVs.
People that know Saturn don't want the product.
People that want the product don't know Saturn.
Sales are dropping.

Pretty simple equation for failure.
 

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I think it does come down to advertising. They ads are good, but like the rest of GM products, it lacks a full backing.
Now, Chevy, Caddy, Pontiac, Buick, GMC...these brands are household names to 100% of America.
Saturn is not. And those that do know Saturn think of cheap, plastic econo cars.

This Rethink campaing was good, and so was the "Thats a Saturn?" one, but the best one they had was "Like Always, Like Never Before."
It got the point out that Saturn has not changed its image, has not changed its dealers, has not changed the Saturn owning experiance, but what they have done is brought cars that people only dreamed of! The Sky is a beautiful sexy roadster, the Aura is a very elegant sedan, the Astra is a fun Euro hatchback, the Vue is a safe and secure compact SUV, and for thsoe with a large family, the Outlook can carry your large Saturn family.
Not Rethink American. Saturn's image has never been about being American and the American way. I did like the Rethink Status part of the commercial. But they should have merged that with the "Like Always" campaing.
Its possible that now Saturn is changing its image, it is going to take some time for people to grasp it and follow the new Saturn. Im not sure how old Saturn people feel, or if they feel anything. Paul brought up a good point in that most S class people have probably moved to Asian or Euro car companies already. I think GM noticed that, which is why they are making cars like the Aura, Vue, while making cars like the Astra and Sky to help keep the cool and fun look of Saturn.
 

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Saturn had 286,000 small-car fans in 1994. Saturn totally revamped their lineup, with a small car (Astra) as an afterthought. Sales are down 15%. Maybe Saturn wasn't the brand to try this with. It was a small-car brand that was moderately succesful. Maybe it should have stayed a small-car brand.
Saturn's lineup is solid, with the exception of the unnecessary Outlook.
Everything else is quite solid.
Saturn needs a car like the Corsa and Meriva, while killing Outlook as Traverse is launched.

I don't believe Saturn is a failure. I believe GM has failed Saturn. Over and over again.

When all is said and done, Saturn is still the one brand that lacks the stigma of being a "GM Car."
And GM hasn't played off that little fact. Perhaps it's because they believe the GM name is respected and shiny as polished chrome. The further a car brand is distanced from the GM name... the better off it will be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Saturn's lineup is solid, with the exception of the unnecessary Outlook.
Everything else is quite solid.
Saturn needs a car like the Corsa and Meriva, while killing Outlook as Traverse is launched.

I don't believe Saturn is a failure. I believe GM has failed Saturn. Over and over again.
No but that's just it... people that know Saturn don't seem to care that it has a 'solid' lineup. They aren't Saturn fans in the first place because of vehicles like the Outlook and Aura... they are Saturn fans because of the S-series and perhaps original Vue. They wanted small, affordable, economical vehicles... and instead they have the pricey Aura and Outlook and Vue (which is apparently a real gas hog).

Kudos to GM for coming up with a great lineup... but boo to GM for sticking it in a brand that wasn't aligned to take advantage of a great lineup. Again, it's like if Toyota gave Scion a $300,000 supercar. Doesn't matter how good it is... Scion fans don't want it, and people looking for that kind of car don't even know Scion exists, most likely. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Aura could have been (with a different face) an updated G6 and had a much bigger impact than as a Saturn.

People know Pontiac, and while it would take more than one generation to erase Pontiacs image problem, the best way to start doing that is to offer great product! The Aura is a big step up from the G6, just as the G8 is catching on because it's a big step up from the Grand Prix.

How would a Corsa or Meriva help Saturn? No one is buying the Astra, and either of those would likely have a similar price disadvantage. I used to think that there was hope for Saturn, but I'm starting to wonder if it's not just as easy to repair Pontiac as it is to get people to notice Saturn. Done right Saturn could be huge, but GM doesn't do things right, so I have little hope left for poor Saturn.
 

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Not Rethink American. Saturn's image has never been about being American and the American way. I did like the Rethink Status part of the commercial. But they should have merged that with the "Like Always" campaign.
It most certainly was originally intended as an all American apple pie, stars and stripes kind of company. They highlighted their plant in Springhill TN. I think most of the suppliers were domestic, or Canadian (some don't consider us Domestic for some reason), they talked about their great UNION contract (which turned out to be a joke). They were all about being as American as can be...so it's kind of funny that to this day some people still think it's a Japanese or other import brand. They didn't believe that a US car company could start up in the '90s, so they must be foreign. A running joke (though based on fact) is that junk yards typically put Saturns "in with the other imports." If anything "Rethink American" would have been a good tag line for the company 15 years ago to go along with the "Different kind of car, Different kind of company."


Paul brought up a good point in that most S class people have probably moved to Asian or Euro car companies already. I think GM noticed that, which is why they are making cars like the Aura, Vue, while making cars like the Astra and Sky to help keep the cool and fun look of Saturn.
If you go over to SaturnFans.com it seems more like everyone that had an S-series and loved it...still has it. Or many are hoarding them and have multiple S-series cars. They are loveable little cars. Some moved up to an ION. Some were satisfied, some were not. Those that went for the L-series were hugely disappointed, however. Some went on to the VUE and those were quite popular and brought in many new customers. The S-series owners can sometimes be even cultish. Several have racked up 300,000+miles with ease. The cars are incredibly simple to work on. Even an novice can do all of the maintenance items with a little guidance. The new Saturn and the old Saturn have essentially nothing in common. That is kind of sad, but the old Saturn was not really that sustainable, was it? Maybe it could have been had they actually changed the product more than 3 times in 11 year. That was one of the promises; with the space frame and removable panels, styling changes would be easier. They were not done, however. The styling was only changes a total of 3 times in 11 years. The engines remained essentially the same throughout that time as well. The difference between a 1992 SL1 and a 2002 SL1 are mostly cosmetic. GM basically left Saturn on the vine to rot.
L So now they’re trying to re-invent it, but they can’t really bank on the old image, since it has nothing at all to do with the current image. The only similarity is that it’s an import fighter brand, but now instead of the Japanese, they’re targeting the European imports, like VW.
 

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No but that's just it... people that know Saturn don't seem to care that it has a 'solid' lineup. They aren't Saturn fans in the first place because of vehicles like the Outlook and Aura... they are Saturn fans because of the S-series and perhaps original Vue. They wanted small, affordable, economical vehicles... and instead they have the pricey Aura and Outlook and Vue (which is apparently a real gas hog).
The new VUE's doing fine. I think the new VUE RL is a complete waste of time and resources, as it's essentially relegated to being a ground effects package.

Look. My first car was a 1991 SL2. I loved that car to death. And I understand the love affair with the SL. The cars were bulletproof. They could be run into the ground... and they'd still run. I know firsthand. I ran mine into the ground. The ONLY problem I ever had was the alternator issue that plagued the 1st gen SL's.

They were small, affordable, very economical vehicles. Period. They also handled quite well for a small car, even matching Civic turn for turn.

I actually agree with Saturn's upscale push with Saturn. It was still fundamentally part of Saturn's original premise -- to compete with imports. But their targets were set a little higher -- Premium economy.
The problem is, initial product based on this initial premise fell a bit short of goal. Not only that, marketing wasn't doing its job to reach this goal. In fact, marketing essentially had Aura overlapping Malibu. And in yet about GM "WTF" move... we have overlap.

Aura needs to set its sights squarely on Accord and Passat.
Malibu needs to set its sights on Altima and Camry and Fusion.

The problem is, Saturn remains a niche vehicle. And, I've made this point before, GM can't make niche vehicles because they don't know how. Niche vehicles don't fit well into spreadsheets.

Kudos to GM for coming up with a great lineup... but boo to GM for sticking it in a brand that wasn't aligned to take advantage of a great lineup. Again, it's like if Toyota gave Scion a $300,000 supercar. Doesn't matter how good it is... Scion fans don't want it, and people looking for that kind of car don't even know Scion exists, most likely. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Aura could have been (with a different face) an updated G6 and had a much bigger impact than as a Saturn.
That's marketing's fault.

People know Pontiac, and while it would take more than one generation to erase Pontiacs image problem, the best way to start doing that is to offer great product! The Aura is a big step up from the G6, just as the G8 is catching on because it's a big step up from the Grand Prix.
Pontiac is about 3 steps from the dustbin of automotive history.
They have an opportunity to build off G8 and Solstice. We'll see.

How would a Corsa or Meriva help Saturn? No one is buying the Astra, and either of those would likely have a similar price disadvantage. I used to think that there was hope for Saturn, but I'm starting to wonder if it's not just as easy to repair Pontiac as it is to get people to notice Saturn. Done right Saturn could be huge, but GM doesn't do things right, so I have little hope left for poor Saturn.
Corsa + Meriva + Astra + Aura + VUE + SKY = A solid, focused Saturn with a singular direction.
Small, euro-style, euro-performance, vehicles.
Adjust marketing to play off those features. Turn the European heritage into a positive. (No more dowdy performing American cars... this is european... blah blah...)

I believe "Rethink American" is the right kind of message to come from Saturn. But the message is getting lost in product translation.

Yes, I am a big Saturn fan. And I firmly believe that Saturn is the ONLY brand GM hasn't completely mucked up -- product wise. The fix for Saturn is quite easy. It's the marketing message, pure and simple. Fix that... and the product will sell itself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
The new VUE's doing fine. I think the new VUE RL is a complete waste of time and resources, as it's essentially relegated to being a ground effects package.

Look. My first car was a 1991 SL2. I loved that car to death. And I understand the love affair with the SL. The cars were bulletproof. They could be run into the ground... and they'd still run. I know firsthand. I ran mine into the ground. The ONLY problem I ever had was the alternator issue that plagued the 1st gen SL's.

They were small, affordable, very economical vehicles. Period. They also handled quite well for a small car, even matching Civic turn for turn.

I actually agree with Saturn's upscale push with Saturn. It was still fundamentally part of Saturn's original premise -- to compete with imports. But their targets were set a little higher -- Premium economy.
The problem is, initial product based on this initial premise fell a bit short of goal. Not only that, marketing wasn't doing its job to reach this goal. In fact, marketing essentially had Aura overlapping Malibu. And in yet about GM "WTF" move... we have overlap.

Aura needs to set its sights squarely on Accord and Passat.
Malibu needs to set its sights on Altima and Camry and Fusion.

The problem is, Saturn remains a niche vehicle. And, I've made this point before, GM can't make niche vehicles because they don't know how. Niche vehicles don't fit well into spreadsheets.


That's marketing's fault.


Pontiac is about 3 steps from the dustbin of automotive history.
They have an opportunity to build off G8 and Solstice. We'll see.


Corsa + Meriva + Astra + Aura + VUE + SKY = A solid, focused Saturn with a singular direction.
Small, euro-style, euro-performance, vehicles.
Adjust marketing to play off those features. Turn the European heritage into a positive. (No more dowdy performing American cars... this is european... blah blah...)

I believe "Rethink American" is the right kind of message to come from Saturn. But the message is getting lost in product translation.

Yes, I am a big Saturn fan. And I firmly believe that Saturn is the ONLY brand GM hasn't completely mucked up -- product wise. The fix for Saturn is quite easy. It's the marketing message, pure and simple. Fix that... and the product will sell itself.
I still don't fully agree. Saturn may have good product, but I repeat: what does that matter if no one wants the product? When the car of the year can't outsell the unloved L-series there's something wrong. The Astra was outsold by the Solstice in April. The Vue is down YTD compared to last year. I like all of Saturn's products and would be happy with any of them, but the average buyer doesn't agree.

GM can't market what is probably the best car lineup in the US... you'd think that would be a fairly easy task. That's why I don't see much hope for poor Saturn, and wonder if it wouldn't be easier to prop up Pontiac (with its much larger dealer base and current fan base and awareness) with all this good product.
 
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