Riney Sets New VUE for Saturn

Saturn will continue efforts to “contemporize” the brand in marketing behind its new sport utility vehicle, the VUE, a company executive said.

Advertising supporting the new model is due this fall from lead Saturn agency Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco. It will highlight the VUE’s attributes, but will also be used to put a fresh face on the overall Saturn brand, said Jill Lajdziak, vice president of Saturn sales, service and marketing.

“We don’t want to lose the essence of who we are, so we will stay focused on the Saturn brand,” she said. “But we have to show we are more than just the country settings seen” in earlier advertising.

As an example of the new image Saturn is after, upcoming TV spots for the VUE and other Saturn models will show the vehicles in urban settings, she said.

The VUE is priced under $20,000 and aimed at the younger end of Saturn’s 25- to 44-year old target. The media buy will include the sort of hip publications and shows that have not been traditional buys for the automaker, Lajdziak said.

The unit of General Motors unveiled two specialized versions of the compact SUV during the press preview at the Chicago Auto Show last week. The new vehicle is part of an ongoing marketing program to build enthusiasm among potential customers.

More than 70,000 people have signed up through the Internet and Saturn’s toll-free number, as well as at displays at auto shows, to receive information about the VUE as it nears production. Of those, 60 percent are non-Saturn owners, according to the automaker.

The vehicle will go on sale during the fourth quarter, but TV spots won’t break until next spring, Lajdziak said. Print ads will launch in the fall, and direct and Internet marketing will lead up to that. Collateral materials so far have featured the tagline, “A new perspective on the SUV.” Lajdziak declined to say if that tag will be used in advertising. Saturn’s overall tag has been, “A different kind of company, a different kind of car.”

Riney began the effort to update Saturn’s image during the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Saturn is one of GM’s strongest brands and the automaker plans to invest heavily in it, said Ronald Zarrella, GM’s North American president. The VUE “is key to GM’s attack on the entry level market.”