I’m a sucker for all things “shmaltzy”, sentimental, or inspiring; which is probably why I was first interested in multi-level marketing and why I gravitate to advertising, Public Relations, and writing.

So, when automaker, Saturn, began airing their Re-Think American campaign on television; I was immediately impressed.

While the commercial is supposed to be about Saturn’s innovations in building a better American car; the overall message of the commercial strikes deeper chords regarding thinking outside the box, status, and business as usual. With at least two heart-tugs for me with images of being married and family.

ADWEEK explains the campaign this way:

The spot contrasts easy stereotypes (bling-encrusted knuckles, heroin-chic goth girls, billowing smokestacks and body-building mesomorphs) with cultural flashpoints (a hand with a wedding band, a mother and infant, a solar-power grid and a triumphant Lance Armstrong).

There is no voiceover; titles convey much of the message, noting the 100,000-mile warranty on each vehicle, plus Saturn’s claim to offer the “most affordable hybrid” car on the market.

The “Rethink” theme is extended into print, outdoor and online work, including billboards with headlines like “Rethink Supersize” (accompanying Saturn’s Outlook SUV) and magazine ads with copy challenging buyers’ preconceived notions on any number of subjects.

“Saturn is seen as a new car company,” said Eric Hirshberg, CCO at Interpublic Group’s Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif. “We [at Deutsch] know it has been around for a long time and we think of this as a relaunch. But it got us thinking about how few new car companies, especially new American car companies, there are.”

The “Rethink American” campaign attempts “to recast a cultural moment in America through the lens of the American car,” Hirshberg said. “Saturn can’t operate as an automotive company; it has to operate on the cultural level.”

The goal, he said, was to move away from the brand’s previous “Aw, shucks tonality. When it was an entry-level brand for non-hagglers, that tone meant a lot. But Saturn has always been so much more than nice. They haven’t stopped behaving like a leading progressive brand; they stopped advertising like one. We had to give them a more assertive tone.”

I may not rush out and buy a Saturn tomorrow, but I have a new respect for the company, and you can pretty much believe that I’ll be talking about the commercial to friends; and they might be in the market for a new car…and isn’t that what makes a successful ad campaign?



About Dave Robison

Now Appearing in an Extended Engagement! Join Dave Robison as he takes you into his world and his daily life of reviving a stand-up comedy career. Prepare for side trips exploring Public Relations, marketing and business ethics. Enjoy some frequent detours describing his observations on life. Read the exploits of this self-proclaimed Renaissance-man and blooming blogger as you go On The Road With Dave. From Mobile, Alabama comes Dave Robison, a confessed Internet-aholic, middle-aged-married-man, who's generally a nice guy--he just has one or two issues. Stand-Up Comedy by Dave Robison is available for corporate events, college campuses, and nightclubs.
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