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Saturn to Take a Trip Through Time With Ion Ads

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A trip through time in an Ion is the anchor idea in the launch campaign for Saturn's new small car, sources said. The work breaks in mid-January from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

Like the brand-anthem spot "Sheet Metal," which broke in August for the General Motors unit, the Ion ads eschew typical auto visuals in favor of a wry take on the human element.

Jill Lajdziak, Saturn vp of sales, service and marketing, declined to discuss details, but said ads for the Ion, successor to Saturn's S-Series, "will take the viewer to a visual place they've never been." Goodby executives couldn't be reached.

Four executions now in production follow young adults driving through a town populated by people who are all experiencing the same life events, sources said.

In one, citizens pose for photos in tuxedos, dance and mimic typical prom activities. A second takes place in a town filled with partying young adults.

A third ad shows a town full of people getting married. The Ion passengers look at each other with apprehension, clearly not ready for that life passage. In the fourth, the entire town is full of babies.

The tagline is still being finalized, but it is likely to be along the lines of: "Ion. Where will it take you next?"

Noam Murro of Biscuit Filmworks in Hollywood, Calif., directed. He also directed "Sheet Metal."

GM had not approved the ads as of last week, so the finer points are still subject to tweaking, sources said.

"Sheet Metal," Goodby's first Saturn work since winning the $300 million account following a review last winter, showed peo ple performing driving activities without vehicles.

Spending for the Ion launch was undisclosed, but GM product-launch campaigns have ranged from $30-50 million, per CMR. Saturn spent about $150 million on ads in 2001 and about $140 million through August of 2002.

The Ion will be the official vehicle of CBS' Sur vivor 6, which begins airing in February. Saturn will tie in to MTV's Road Rules Challenge and the Game Show Network's Cram.