Thursday, February 19, 2009

The collapse of Saturn.

No, not the planet. The division of General Motors.

As Lincoln once said of America, Saturn was/is "the last best hope of earth" or at least of the auto industry. For a time, Saturn seemed like it could become the American Volkswagen. Though the actual cars they made when the brand launched weren't very good, Saturn represented an idea. The idea of doing things differently.

Of course, doing things differently--people-focused--was something GM could never abide. Though people proved they would flock to "a different kind of car" made by a "different kind of company," GM never supported the brand.

The brand never had a product line. And then its advertising, its position was blanderized into nothing more than just another piece of GM crap.

My point here is pretty simple.
GM will always do things GM's way.
Their failure is not about the Unions.
Or healthcare costs.
Their failure comes insisting on doing things their way.

Bailout money or not, as long as GM's management is allowed to persist
in its myopia, it will continue to atrophy.

As will Madison Avenue.
But more on that later.



If anyone doubts the stupidity of corporations or the power of individuals, they only have to look at Saturn. GM built a piece of crap. Hal Riney turned it into something extraordinary. Then GM destroyed it.

Anyone in advertising who has ever built a successful brand and then watched corporate imbeciles destroy it, knows the agony that Riney must have felt.

I think I need to blog about this next week.

This comment has been removed by the author.
george tannenbaum said...

Actually, if you go to Hal Riney's ( website you can see a Riney spot for the brand and one for the electric car.

If you love advertising, the spots will exhilarate you. You find yourself wanting to believe in Saturn, wanting to be part of the brand.

My guess is that Riney was fired because he was "hard to work with," or GM procurement decided they needed to consolidate at a particular holding company.