Riney Updating Saturn’s Image

With its latest campaign, Saturn aims to show that it can sell cars without kitschy human interest stories and shots of cars speeding through the outdoors.

The campaign, part of a $40 million push by Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, has kicked off during the Olympics and will run in various stages throughout the year. It includes 13 new TV commercials that try to establish Saturn as more than a company that sells small, reliable cars.

“We wanted to present them as a dynamic company,” said Douglas M. Sweeny, vice president and account director at the agency. “At first we just tried to present ourselves as an alternative to Asian brands. Now we’re trying to modernize the brand.”

Creatives at Riney said the effort to update Saturn will still emphasize the brand’s core values such as honesty. At the same time, it shows how the company is moving forward and teases new vehicles.

“Saturn is a classic American brand. Now we just want it to feel more up-to-date,” said Chris Robb, senior vice president and creative director.

In one spot, titled “L Factory,” Saturn’s L series vehicle is shown through a virtual tour of Saturn’s new car plant. The spot shows the car in the assembly plant as Saturn workers assemble it.

Several other spots suggest the car is both durable and stylish. In one ad, a voiceover says the company doesn’t have to install dent-proof doors in its vehicles. It then shows a bike falling on the car in the garage. The car remains undented.

If Saturn takes care of the small details, the voice over concludes, it will certainly take care of more important vehicle features.

The spots end with the long-running tagline “A different kind of company. A different kind of car.”

The commercials will air on most major networks. In addition to the Olym pics, they will be featured during NFL games. Print ads will appear in a variety of national magazines.