Thursday, October 1, 2009
Saturn is dead.
As the full title of Ad Aged indicates, this blog started in part as a rumination on the ossification of the advertising industry and the parallel paralysis in the American auto industry in Detroit.
Today the news came out that what was once the last best hope for Detroit, the Saturn brand, will not be "saved" by Roger Penske and will be eliminated by Corporal Motors. (Clearly they haven't deserved the "General" rank for many years now.)
At the out-set Saturn did a lot of things right. They hired Hal Riney and made themselves a coveted brand, a brand with a story, a creation myth. The work that Riney did made Saturn's employees proud. It made the dealers human. It made the people proud to be part of Saturn.
Then, GM decided to squeeze Saturn. They failed to support the brand with new and better products. They fired Hal Riney. And when GM finally decided to resuscitate the nameplate with new and attractive products, the damage was already done and the pith and core of the brand had perished.
Dear Mr. Sorrell,
Dear Mr. Wren,
Dear Mr. Roth,
Dear Mr. Levy,
I'm just a lowly maker of ads, not a M&A wizard. I don't have a fat, global account in my pocket. I don't understand complex financial wheelings and dealings, but if I
were any of you, I'd stop jetting around the world for a few weeks and think hard about Saturn.
I'd think hard about my agency brands. About the morale of my people. About a calcified infrastructure that does little but preserve a calcified infrastructure.
I'd think a lot about Saturn. And how your holding companies can avoid becoming a, well, dead planet.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 7:09 AM