Saturn Takes a Trip Through Time in Ion Launch

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

Like “Sheet Metal,” the brand-anthem spot that broke in August for the General Motors unit, the Ion ads eschew typical auto visuals such as beauty shots and running foot age for a offbeat take on the human element.

Jill Lajdziak, Saturn vp of sales, service and marketing, declined to discuss creative details, but said the commercials for the Ion, the successor to Saturn’s S-Series model line, “will take the viewer to a visual place they’ve never been before.” Goodby executives couldn’t be reached.

Four Ion ads now in production follow a car of young adults driving through a town populated only by people experiencing the same life experiences, sources said.

In one, citizens mimic prom activities. A second takes place in a town filled with partying young adults. The spot opens with a shot of a couch on the side of the road with some one asleep on it.

A third shows a town full of people getting married. In the fourth, the passengers see a town of babies.

The vehicle’s tagline is still being finalized, but is likely to be similar to “Ion: Where will it take you next.”

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

Goodby won the $300 million Saturn account following a review in Jan uary. The agency’s ideas for the Ion launch were a factor in it winning the Saturn account.

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

Ion will be the official vehicle of Sur vivor 6, to begin airing in February. The Saturn Vue was lead spon sor of Survivor 4. Saturn will tie in to MTV’s Road Rules Challenge and the Game Show Network’s Cram.