Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Flybrian

Notes from the Board

29 posts in this topic

Notes from the Board
Saturn Brand Advocate Board Meeting Recap
Posted Image
By Brian Dreggors

As many of you know, I was recently invited to attend the first Saturn Brand Advocate Board Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. From April 18-20th, myself and thirteen other people representing other Saturn enthusiast organizations were given an in-depth and comprehensive look at the Saturn Division, its heritage, and the direction it intends to follow into the future.

I have to begin by saying that no one knows how to dazzle like General Motors. From the events, to the accommodations, to the entertainment, it’s clear that this corporation is well-versed in the art of making good first impressions. A well-appointed suite at the Renaissance Center Marriot greeted us as well as a wonderful full-course dinner at the RenCen's own Seldom Blues supper club and a private catered affair at the exclusive Heritage Center. I cannot tell you exactly what my preconceptions were, but enjoying chardonnay and tournedo of beef while discussing future vehicles with Lisa Hutchinson (Director of Product and Brand Development) not fifty feet away from the Buick Y-Job was not among them.

But stepping back from the wine-and-dine - and there was plenty of both - I realized the real purpose of the Brand Advocate Meeting was not for Saturn and General Motors to show us what they’ve done, but what they can do and gather from us opinions and ideas to continue building and expanding positively.

Out with the Olds...

I’m not alone in lamenting the loss of the Oldsmobile division. It speaks to the impact that line of automobiles had on the American automotive community that even today over a half-decade after the shuttering was first announced, people still miss Olds. Perhaps what was most frustrating about the eventuality of Oldsmobile was not what it was as much as what it was on the verge of becoming. Groundbreaking entries like the original Aurora and Intrigue sedans along with innovations like GuideStar navigation, the 2000 Profile concept, and the OSV performance line renewed faith and reinvigorated a generation that watched as Oldsmobile's point became more and more in doubt. Now showcasing the best of American technological ingenuity and design prowess, tomorrow promised to be a bright day for Oldsmobile, conqueror of imports, proud ambassador of premium American automobiles.

We all know the end of that dream, though. Sales continued to plummet and Oldsmobile is no more.

Accelerate into the near future, if you will, and see with your own eyes with clarity that the destiny of Saturn is to pick up where Oldsmobile left off. See it as an aged father leaving his legacy in his son’s young hands and you’ll understand. You can only reinvent yourself so many times before losing the ability to command attention without doing something utterly dramatic; ask Madonna if you don’t believe it. Instead of trying the shed the baggage of where it came from, Saturn is perfectly poised to create a brand-new, uncluttered future for itself.

All Your Sales are Belong to Us
Posted Image

A mistake many make is underestimating the power of Saturn’s conquest ability. Many of the attendees at the Brand Advocate meetings were either import owners or import intenders who were converted by Saturn vehicles or the Saturn retailer treatment. From Al Clapsaddle, a self-confessed Toyota devotee who was so impressed with his first SL and its buying experience that he became a Saturn sales consultant himself, to Norris Jeffrey, who chose a 2007 Outlook over the Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9, the proof is in the personal accounts, which are far from uncommon.

The positive experiences many had with Saturn retailers and/or Saturn corporate has led to them recommending the brand to their friends, family, and acquaintances. The simple fact is that most who buy a Saturn tend not to leave the Saturn family when they buy their next vehicle. Conquest and retention is a crucial factor in the market today and the fact that the Saturn division has been so successful with an arguably mediocre lineup of cars in its early history is remarkable. Saturn is not making the mistake of resting on its laurels and continues to foster close relationships with the new generation of Saturn owners with the SKY roadster, AURA, and OUTLOOK.

The problem comes in getting people to the dealerships in the first place to even look at a Saturn. This is starkly apparent with the opening numbers on the OUTLOOK, which are not only well below initial expectations, but below those of the similar but more expensive GMC Acadia.

The lack of an extensive dealer network can be blamed on one end. I brought this argument up to Chuck Thomson, Director of Sales for Saturn and he assured me that they’ve taken that into consideration. He noted that Saturn’s current network of 435 retailers encompass 90% of the statistical sales volume in the market. Mr. Thomson also mentioned that recent initiatives such as the At-Home Test Drive program and 24/7 Live Chat allow retailers more ways to reach out to consumers who may not have the time or convenience to make it into a dealership regardless of where they’re located. Some dealers also make special accommodations to assist Saturn owners who live further away from their retailer and online scheduling is something that is being refined at the retailer level.

The lack of advertising is another issue that is critical to Saturn’s awareness. The one-liner that Saturn has the best cars that no one’s ever heard of is rooted in fact. While enthusiasts like ourselves are so conscious of new products that we get bored when the debut commercials air, for the general consumer, it’s often the first time they become aware of the car. Rapid-fire launches of multiple products are ambitious enough from a manufacturing and logistical standpoint, but Saturn has the disadvantage of competing not only with itself for marketing money, but with every other GM division with new product as well. Asking this question to Dan Keller, Director of Marketing for Saturn. Leveraging the power of the internet is an important factor in getting to word out, he noted. Saturn’s recent marketing with Google banners and ads on popular consumer resources like Edmunds and KBB is part of this; with the latter, it’s intended that the consumer searching for information on a Camry or Accord, for example, will be shown an AURA banner ad this is dynamic and showcases quick facts about the car. Keller also made note of a new ad campaign that parallels the new product launches. I cannot mention details of the campaign or when it will be first seen, but if it’s anything like the recent AURA and OUTLOOK spots we’ve seen, they will help get more people into their local showrooms.

Saturn Rising
Posted Image

As mentioned above, Saturn is in the middle of an incredible expansion in its product lineup. I’ll cover a few of the new vehicles we were privileged to see in person and some engineering developments we can expect to see separately, but here are some quick notes.
  • Cadillac’s turnaround took six years. Saturn’s will take 30 months.
  • New introductions will include the 2008 VUE and Astra, including many hybrid variants of the former.
  • By the end of 2007, the oldest vehicle in the lineup will be the SKY roadster.
And yet with all this activity, Saturn plans to continue increasing build quality and refine the existing products yearly. In another piece, I will chronicle our visit to the Lansing Delta Township assembly facility, a visit that would leave doubters of GM’s new quality and efficiency commitments speechless.

Perhaps most important in Saturn’s continued growth is their commitment to listening to what the consumer wants. Whether it’s a devotee, a new owner, or a non-owner, I came away from the Brand Advocate Meeting confident that Saturn is listening with open ears. And it’s not just the lip service you’d expect from a large corporation either; the midsize car manager doesn’t speak to you for half an hour about what features people want in the AURA if he really isn’t interested. And it’s that concept of never being satisfied with the status quo that drives Saturn today.

As we all know, Saturn was traditionally hamstrung in terms of product development. The original S-Series lingered along way past its prime and the first few years of the L-Series were far less than ideal. Now, relatively flush with investment from General Motors, Saturn has no desire to repeat the past. Constant improvement in the form of subtle and not-so-subtle model year changes should be expected; the SKY, for example, receives quite a few owner-driven upgrades for 2008 that I will detail (along with other future product news) in another piece. This dedication to continuous change is refreshing compared to insignificant wheel and color modifications we’ve been used to from most manufacturers. Its shows the spirit Saturn has for its vehicles and creating the best entries in the segment.

Revisiting dealerships for a moment, Saturn will also begin updating most of its 435 retailers with a new, streamlined look. Not only will enhance the already favorable buying experience, but likely catch the eye of those who haven’t given the Saturn facilities a second look. I will also detail this in another piece.

The Pillars of Saturn
Posted Image

Director of Product and Brand Development Lisa Hutchinson outlined for us what she referred to as the Five Pillars of the Saturn Brand, a handful of principles that guide Saturn’s evolution: Safety, Environmental Friendliness, Honestly, Dynamic Styling and Driving, and Innovation. Last two sound somewhat familiar? No doubt the waning days of Oldsmobile featured innovative and dynamic automobiles and its reassuring to see that pace is being kept by the Saturn division; after all, GM has always needed a brand to lead the way in the volume market.

Honesty is but a given with Saturn and refers to the dealership experience exemplified by the no-haggle pricing, low pressure salespeople, the lack of markups on popular vehicles, and the atmosphere of the retailers. Again, there are variations as some automotive retail groups treat their Saturn franchise as just another colony in their vast empire, but on the whole, the Saturn Way has managed to hold on to – If not retake or even conquer – many customers that would otherwise leave General Motors. Again, this varies from retailer to retailer, but it was encouraging to see and hear tale of Saturn dealerships that were completely in tune with their customers, offering to help promote car clubs and sponsor club activities and charitable events, realize what goes around comes around in terms of positive word-of-mouth experiences.

Environmental friendliness is also a trait more often than not associate with the division, its line of small compacts returning impressive mileage figures. The first OUTLOOK owner reports that he attains approximately 21MPG in his average driving, respectable for such a large figure. This concept of being green from production to the end of the car’s life is taking hold all across GM, as evidenced by the latest factory at Lansing Delta Township. We were assured that future Saturn models would meet or exceed previous models in fuel consumption figures despite in the increase in standard equipment.

Speaking of more equipment, the safety aspect of Saturn products is improving by leaps and bounds. Side curtain airbags, pelvic airbags, and stability control along with 5-star NHTSA ratings are seen as basic prerequisites in the design of the latest models. Many people already view Saturn as a ‘safe’ car; even more will see that in the near future.

Dynamic styling and driving experience is something rather new to Saturn and while tuners have been making do with the S-Series for years, the off-the-shelf Saturn has left much to be desired. Consider the increased alignment with Opel as an incredibly positive sign that handling and ride quality is something that will be inborn to every new Saturn. The Astra will be the first evidence of this cooperation and will provide North Americans will an unadulterated European sport compact like we’ve never seen before. And while the all-out performance-branded OPC models will likely never be imported as whole cars, don’t be surprised to see aspects and components of these vehicles show up in American Saturn models. On the styling front, one only needs to look at the new crop of Saturns to see cues that will set the standard for future cars – a thick, horizontal chrome grille bar, taut pulled-back greenhouses, jeweled headlamp clusters, ultrabright LED taillamp clusters, and subtle but effective fender flares. From Saturns of just five years ago, it’s like see the female chess club geek become the prom queen.

Lastly, innovation is occurring at breakneck pace at Saturn. Look at the recent announcements of three different hybrid powertrain offerings in the 2008 VUE as the most compelling evidence of that. Again, returning to the alignment with Opel, Saturn is very much investigating the concept of small-displacement turbo-diesel engines. I can tell you that several of the carline managers are big fans of Opel diesels for their low-end torque and fantastic drivability, never mind the incredible fuel economy. From drivetrain engineering to individual features, Saturn is now very aware of our wants and desires. For handsfree phone aficionados, Bluetooth intregration is being worked on and - as seen in other GM products - is on its way. For OnStar users who want even more utility, GM is working on combining XM NavTraffic with Turn-by-Turn to provide real-time routing around congestion as well as remote vehicle VCM/PCM upgrading, making your ‘reprogramming’ visit to the service department a thing of the past.

Born is the USA…or Mexico…or Europe…
Posted Image

However, one aspect of Saturn’s product revitalization concerns me – globalization. As one who takes pride in owning two American vehicles assembled by Americans in an American UAW factory, it’s disconcerting to learn that at least two of Saturn’s newest vehicles – the Astra and VUE – will be manufactured offshore and imported. Jill Lajdziak is quick to point out that the Wilmington plant that produces GM’s two Kappa roadsters will also manufacturer Opel and Daewoo versions of the SKY for export and that the decision of where to manufacture a vehicle is a product of many different levels of consideration as to where it is most financially-sound and the like. Understanding that this is not a Saturn issue or even a GM issue, but a worldwide issue affecting every manufacturer puts things in perspective and perhaps enables one to understand the situation more – after all, its arguably better to have a good American car made overseas than a poor American car made here – but for a shrinking few like myself who wish for American cars to be 100% American, it’s a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.

Another concern that was expressed at the Board Meeting was the subject of GM Card acceptance. Currently, accumulated GM Card earnings are not eligible for redemption on the purchase of a new Saturn vehicle and many simply wonder why, especially since Saturn is in every way another division of GM and all other GM marques accept the GM Card. This was explained in a two-fold fashion. First, being that Saturn is primarily a conquest brand, most Saturn owners are likely to not have accumulated GM Card earnings. Second, Saturn relies on bottom-line pricing and provides the most value at MSRP without a built-in ‘float’ that other GM vehicles have in their retail pricing. Reasonable as those arguments may seem, it ignores a simple premise I mentioned earlier – most people who buy Saturn stay with Saturn. If those that have GM Card earnings wish to use them on a Saturn, so be it? Again, the total number of customers with those points is probably not a whole lot, so you’re not opening the floodgates to wreak havoc on Saturn’s bottom-line pricing, rather you’re extending GM owners the option of shopping a Saturn with no penalty. As far as I know, GMS pricing and employee discounts still apply to Saturns, so why not GM Card earnings? However, this is something I was told comes up every now and then and Saturn is continually reevaluating it. Let’s hope they make the right decision on this one.

Final Notes
Posted Image

My entire experience with the Saturn management and other Saturn enthusiasts was absolutely beyond compare. Never did I expect us to receive the treatment and the opportunity we did and of course, I will tell you of those individual experiences (say it with me now) in another piece.

So what did I learn?

I learned that Saturn as a division does not know every single thing it’s doing yet, and that’s a ringing complement. Stagnation and the status quo are some of the most damning things in this industry, especially today. Look at the catch-up every single American manufacturer has had to engage in within the past 20 years. Some like GM and its divisions are digging themselves out successfully; others, not so much. But Saturn enters this period of sweeping revolution in the auto industry with open eyes, a clear mind, and an impassioned heart unlike any other brand or division that exists today. Most importantly, everyone in the Saturn organization has a true, tangible passion for the brand. I can see it with their actions and the light in their eyes when they talk about what’s coming around the corner and the accomplishments they’ve made. I’ve been lucky enough to witness first-hand a glimpse of a car company being born and what a feeling that is.

Despite its relative young age, the passion inside and outside for Saturn is overwhelming. Though obviously not as numerous compared to other brands, the number of current Saturn car clubs are amazing considering how young the division is. You don’t see Kia clubs or Hyundai clubs – three guys with Tiburons hanging out at Taco Bell doesn’t count – and Hyundai has been selling cars for a few more years than Saturn. Again, it’s a passion that has existed, continues to, and will bolster Saturn in the future.

Ask yourself if you’d like to see a car company that cares about what you think. Ask yourself if you want to watch a heritage being created before your very eyes. Ask if you’d like to see General Motors succeed in taking back what it’s lost. Ask if you want a brand to be run by passionate and devoted car guys and girls that live, breath, and eat the spirit of an outstanding American automobile.

If you answered any of the above in the affirmative, then there’s a little bit of Saturn enthusiast inside of you, regardless of what you drive.

QuickLinks
* Saturn's New Retail Look - A first look at the new face of Saturn dealerships
* Building on Tradition - A Tour of Lansing Delta Township Assembly
* The GM Heritage Center - A photographic tour of GM's most historic collection
* The Near-Future of Saturn - Get updated on the SKY, AURA, Astra, and come along for a quick drive in the 2008 VUE!

--------------------


Special Thanks to...

Jill Lajdziak - General Manager
Chuck Thomson - Director of Sales (Retail Integration)
Lisa Hutchinson - Director of Product and Brand Development
Kyle Johnson - Director of Communications
Dan Keller - Director of Marketing
Lisa Sullivan - Manager of Marketing Development
Scott Horn - Internet / CRM Manager
Kevin Frayne - Sky & Outlook Product Manager
Andre Kazewych - Aura Product Manager
Liz Wetzel - Global Brand Design Director

Randy Thayer - GM LDT Plant Manager
Doug Rademacher - President, UAW Local 602

The Directors and Staff of the GM Heritage Center

The Staff of Carlson Marketing

Rick Buda - SkyRoadster.com
Wally Choi - Aloha Atlanta Sky Club
Al Clapsaddle - Central Ohio Saturn Car Club
John LeTourneau - GF Racing
Kevin Keller - Saturn Performance Club
Brett Meyers - SaturnSpot.com
Anita Brown - Saturn of Clearwater
Charlie Brown - Nature Coast Saturn Car Club
Charlie Eickmeyer - SaturnFans.com
Rich McComas - Sky & Solstice Club
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clearly Saturn is heading in the right direction. Interesting comments about importing Saturns from overseas and the lack of build on this continent. Still, as many like to buy all things imported, being associated with "German design/German built" is not all bad for Saturn - especially since they hope to conquer other owners of "imports."

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post. I look forward to the Opelazation of Saturn. I wouldn't even mind if the badges of Saturn changed to Opel permanently.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Um when is the Aura getting Bluetooth?

That is the one thing that I would love to have in my next car this coming fall!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

really fun write up Flybrian. I enjoyed it.

Ditto from me.

Sounds like you had a great time, Fly ... and learned a lot ... excellent :).

Cort:33swm."Mr Monte Carlo.Mr Road Trip".pig valve.pacemaker

PICS:lego.HO.model.MCinfo.RT.CHD = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

my radio show:CD SHOWCASE.7:30p central.Friday/April 27 = www.wrmn1410.com

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great article Fly, You brought a tear to my eye in the "Olds" section. Very well written.

Saturn has always been the "New" Oldsmobile in my eyes. The paralells are there if you look.

I hope to be part of the planet some day.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good read. As always, the effort and thought involved is greatly appreciated.

Just curious: Would they ask you to attend again if you were to write a negative piece?

With all due respect, it sounds like PR fluff with a small modicum of humility or mistake admission to sell it as 'real.'

If they were serious about the info disseminated and collected, they would have invited import owners almost exclusively, since thats where their real opportunity lies with the upgraded product.

Inviting a GM fan board mod is like asking a grandmother if her grandson is smart. Just my .02.

Edited by enzl
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Inviting a GM fan board mod is low-cost and grassroots-level positive PR. Every company does it, automotive industry or not.

This was a good read. I'm a bit jealous.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Inviting a GM fan board mod is low-cost and grassroots-level positive PR. Every company does it, automotive industry or not.

This was a good read. I'm a bit jealous.

Agreed that its good, cheap PR---Not sure that the feedback GM gets from said invite is relevant to what they need to do.

As I alluded to in my earlier post, GM needs reality to peek in through the shades, not more cheerleading...that's how they ended up in the trouble they're in.

Ex. I went to the local auto show with 2 friends...both exactly where GM needs to draw car buyers from: young, suburban, high-earning family types....They both consciously avoided the domestic displays and laughed when I suggested a number of US branded alternatives to the vehicles they were considering. Now, I got 'em to look (Outlook/Acadia, specifically), but that attitude is pervasive amongst this socioeconomic group...

GM needs to recover those people, somehow. If they don't they're dead. Period. Inviting fanboys to mission critical show and tells doesn't make sense to me.

If C&G wants to be used for GM's PR machine, that's fine, but let's call it what it is.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious: Would they ask you to attend again if you were to write a negative piece?

Depends how many first and last names I used. ;)

In all seriousness, likely yes as long as I didn't reveal future product info they didn't ask me to.

With all due respect, it sounds like PR fluff with a small modicum of humility or mistake admission to sell it as 'real.'

If they were serious about the info disseminated and collected, they would have invited import owners almost exclusively, since thats where their real opportunity lies with the upgraded product.

Inviting a GM fan board mod is like asking a grandmother if her grandson is smart. Just my .02.

You know the saying that you criticize what you love the most? I think that played out here. I understand my writeup doesn't capture every facet of the conversation, but I can assure you that critical thought was engaged in by many. I don't know if our criticisms and concerns differed much from import owners (hybrid, performance, quality, uneven sales experiences, increased MSRPs, feature concerns). I myself raised questions about Bluetooth, the rear seat armrest missing in the Aura, navigation, manual availability, interior quality hangups in the Aura, etc. I was surprised by how much the weight vs. fuel economy question was brought up by others. I really don't know what else an import owner would add.

In fact, I'd argue that a bunch of random import owners know next to nothing about the cars Saturn sells; we do. We have enough knowledge to ask meaningful questions instead of esoteric or rhetorical ones like, "Why doesn't Saturn have a Prius?" That is, unless, you think the goal should be to convert import owners one by one via invitations to events like this.

And in continued defense of C&G, I'd like to point out they didn't invite certain other GM sites who have either grown so despondant they'll never be satisfied with anything GM makes, or are literally posters of GM Media press releases. I think they made a wise choice because we represent a majority body of GM enthusiasts and a vocal minority of import owners, import intenders, and the generally open-minded such as yourself.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends how many first and last names I used. ;)

In all seriousness, likely yes as long as I didn't reveal future product info they didn't ask me to.

You know the saying that you criticize what you love the most? I think that played out here. I understand my writeup doesn't capture every facet of the conversation, but I can assure you that critical thought was engaged in by many. I don't know if our criticisms and concerns differed much from import owners (hybrid, performance, quality, uneven sales experiences, increased MSRPs, feature concerns). I myself raised questions about Bluetooth, the rear seat armrest missing in the Aura, navigation, manual availability, interior quality hangups in the Aura, etc. I was surprised by how much the weight vs. fuel economy question was brought up by others. I really don't know what else an import owner would add.

In fact, I'd argue that a bunch of random import owners know next to nothing about the cars Saturn sells; we do. We have enough knowledge to ask meaningful questions instead of esoteric or rhetorical ones like, "Why doesn't Saturn have a Prius?" That is, unless, you think the goal should be to convert import owners one by one via invitations to events like this.

And in continued defense of C&G, I'd like to point out they didn't invite certain other GM sites who have either grown so despondant they'll never be satisfied with anything GM makes, or are literally posters of GM Media press releases. I think they made a wise choice because we represent a majority body of GM enthusiasts and a vocal minority of import owners, import intenders, and the generally open-minded such as yourself.

I'm greatly appreciative of the time clearly spent on your experience and the writing....I just fundamentally disagree that fans are the ones they need to speak to about product....as I've written before, most people younger than 40 are openly dismissive of domestic vehicles. I went to the NY show and my buddies didn't even want to walk through most of the domestic branded areas, period....

You must get Saturn on the radar screen. You have to get the attention of those that have ignored the brand...Influence the influencers, so to speak. To be honest, your complaints about bluetooth or center armrests, while helpful, are not the dealbreakers for people like my friends....they're not even considering the brand.

Your comment about the Prius is most revealing and makes my point for me: The Prius is a symbol iof what Toyota CAN do, and, unfortunately, by logical extention, what GM/Saturn is NOT doing. This is the perception of the great unwashed, the non-enthusiast community and the target audience for Saturn in its new incarnation. I can't argue that the Prius is really something great, but others look at that achievement (dubious to our eyes as it may be) and use it as a prime example of why they don't consider GM cars.

Like I said above, I appreciate your time and effort, but its clear to me by the tone of your writing that you're not taking an objective view of the domestic auto industry's plight. Pick a domestic nameplate and then spend a few hours in a showroom and you'll see exactly what I mean. My company is succeeding despite the efforts of GM, not because of it. That should concern you as an enthusiast and fan of everything GM.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depends how many first and last names I used. ;)

In all seriousness, likely yes as long as I didn't reveal future product info they didn't ask me to.

What were their exact words? You know where I am getting at. :scratchchin:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm greatly appreciative of the time clearly spent on your experience and the writing....I just fundamentally disagree that fans are the ones they need to speak to about product....as I've written before, most people younger than 40 are openly dismissive of domestic vehicles. I went to the NY show and my buddies didn't even want to walk through most of the domestic branded areas, period....

You must get Saturn on the radar screen. You have to get the attention of those that have ignored the brand...Influence the influencers, so to speak. To be honest, your complaints about bluetooth or center armrests, while helpful, are not the dealbreakers for people like my friends....they're not even considering the brand.

Your comment about the Prius is most revealing and makes my point for me: The Prius is a symbol iof what Toyota CAN do, and, unfortunately, by logical extention, what GM/Saturn is NOT doing. This is the perception of the great unwashed, the non-enthusiast community and the target audience for Saturn in its new incarnation. I can't argue that the Prius is really something great, but others look at that achievement (dubious to our eyes as it may be) and use it as a prime example of why they don't consider GM cars.

Like I said above, I appreciate your time and effort, but its clear to me by the tone of your writing that you're not taking an objective view of the domestic auto industry's plight. Pick a domestic nameplate and then spend a few hours in a showroom and you'll see exactly what I mean. My company is succeeding despite the efforts of GM, not because of it. That should concern you as an enthusiast and fan of everything GM.

You seem to have missed the intent of this event entirely. Saturn chose the folks that they did for the purpose of acting as ambassadors for the brand, to have them be better informed and better able to relate what Saturn is about to the "great unwashed". This wasn't market research, nor was it intended to be. If you believe that Saturn doesn't do the sort of market research you suggest, you are kidding yourself. This simply wasn't that sort of event.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You seem to have missed the intent of this event entirely. Saturn chose the folks that they did for the purpose of acting as ambassadors for the brand, to have them be better informed and better able to relate what Saturn is about to the "great unwashed". This wasn't market research, nor was it intended to be. If you believe that Saturn doesn't do the sort of market research you suggest, you are kidding yourself. This simply wasn't that sort of event.

Were you there? Do you work in Saturn's marketing Dept.?

I was refering to marketing EVENTS, not research, as I'm sure GM is flush with the market research that verifies that their name is mud with most import intenders. They probably also know that most people don't know Saturn is a GM brand....why else would they keep it alive?

Scion sponsors concerts, Mazda sponsors weekend racing with its product....I haven't seen a Saturn sponsored event (and I look for this stuff) in my area in years.

My point, since you've clearly misunderstood my previous post, is that in order for Saturn to flourish, you need converts. Pumping fans up with more 'info' isn't how you do it....If you read Brian's take on the event, it's basically a puff piece for Saturn. Well written and intentioned, but not far off the normal marketing message GM seeks to disseminate.

You want to convert the unwashed, not preach to the choir. I'm painfully aware of GM's shortcomings in regard to marketing---ironically its their best stuff that usually get the short shrift...this is what I live with each day.

Start with getting the message to those that need to hear it and stop gathering cheerleaders around campfires singing KumBaYa.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Were you there? Do you work in Saturn's marketing Dept.?

I was refering to marketing EVENTS, not research, as I'm sure GM is flush with the market research that verifies that their name is mud with most import intenders. They probably also know that most people don't know Saturn is a GM brand....why else would they keep it alive?

Scion sponsors concerts, Mazda sponsors weekend racing with its product....I haven't seen a Saturn sponsored event (and I look for this stuff) in my area in years.

My point, since you've clearly misunderstood my previous post, is that in order for Saturn to flourish, you need converts. Pumping fans up with more 'info' isn't how you do it....If you read Brian's take on the event, it's basically a puff piece for Saturn. Well written and intentioned, but not far off the normal marketing message GM seeks to disseminate.

You want to convert the unwashed, not preach to the choir. I'm painfully aware of GM's shortcomings in regard to marketing---ironically its their best stuff that usually get the short shrift...this is what I live with each day.

Start with getting the message to those that need to hear it and stop gathering cheerleaders around campfires singing KumBaYa.

You still don't get it. But it seems to pointless to converse with you, so I'll just give up now.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You still don't get it. But it seems to pointless to converse with you, so I'll just give up now.

What? explain it slowly, then....I want to know how the type of event that Brian attended helps Saturn....

You are not in the biz. You don't understand the prevailing consumer attitude and you clearly don't have a clue how to change said attitude.

So explain to me how inviting a bunch of people who know/like Saturn and, furthermore, know almost everything about the brand anyway, then they are going to learn more and then tell their friends and co-workers to buy a Saturn?

Please, enlighten me. Please!

The salesmen waiting in an empty showroom would like to know too!

Edited by enzl
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for a great job, Fly. It's quite nice to see all your hard work paying off like this. Though we all have had a hand in macking C&G what it is today, your outstanding efforts have pushed the site forward and raised the level of our content well above what it has ever been before. It is gratifying to see GM taking notice and making our dialog with them more official by asking you to this meeting. As sites like this continue to displace the traditional auto rags, it is only natural for GM to engage us more directly. My hat's off to you for doing such a fine job of reporting this unprcedented experience to all of us.

I look forward to a continuing give and take with GM, and to their success with all of the excellent new products headed our way. This initial meeting lays the cornerstone for what I hope will be expanded interaction with the people running the show.

Well done! :thumbsup:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for a great job, Fly. It's quite nice to see all your hard work paying off like this. Though we all have had a hand in macking C&G what it is today, your outstanding efforts have pushed the site forward and raised the level of our content well above what it has ever been before. It is gratifying to see GM taking notice and making our dialog with them more official by asking you to this meeting. As sites like this continue to displace the traditional auto rags, it is only natural for GM to engage us more directly. My hat's off to you for doing such a fine job of reporting this unprcedented experience to all of us.

I look forward to a continuing give and take with GM, and to their success with all of the excellent new products headed our way. This initial meeting lays the cornerstone for what I hope will be expanded interaction with the people running the show.

Well done! :thumbsup:

Taking your ball and going home, huh?

I just would really like an explanation from an 'expert' admin as to how the General benefits from these 'events'.

Since you're not talking, anyone else care to enlighten me?---I'd genuinely like to understand.

Edited by enzl
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am home.

Frankly, I find dealing with you to be tiresome and predictably negative. With friends like you GM and C&G don't need enemies. That is simply all I have to say to you, except that I don't intend to address you directly moving forward. I'm not part of this site because I like to argue, I'm here because I support, enjoy, and believe in GM much as I do my fellow staff members and the mission of C&G.

I just don't have any more time for your noise.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taking your ball and going home, huh?

I just would really like an explanation from an 'expert' admin as to how the General benefits from these 'events'.

Since you're not talking, anyone else care to enlighten me?---I'd genuinely like to understand.

A minimal investment gives key people in the Saturn division the opportunity to understand first-hand why those that own their products like and enjoy their products. It gives them a chance to hear what legacy and first-time owners like, dislike, and would like seeing improved on current and future models. It also provides the opportunity for key figures in the Saturn enthusiast community to meet each other for the first time at a Saturn-based event and foster relationships based on this. C&G was probably the only organization that did not members that regularly meet offline. The numerous tuning and performance clubs as well as SKY owner associations have regular and frequent meets that promote the Saturn product on their own.

The entire concept of a Brand Advocate is creating self-sustaining, independent (usually word-of-mouth) advertising for your product/company that requires a minimal of support or investment from that your company. Saturn doesn't pay these organizations to promote their brand; they do so themselves through track events, campouts, day trips, and scenic cruises. Mind you, this isn't fifteen guys with their old Mustangs who meet at the IHOP every third Tuesday and talk about how much better their classic are compared to new Fords; these members are passionate about the brand and the product and have 'converted' many of their family and friends. Stories of Saturn owners bringing former import drivers dissatisfied with the shuck-and-jive Toyo/Honda way of retailing cars into the Saturn family are prolific and downright remarkable considering that - until recently - the cars they made weren't anything special.

What did this cost GM? Maybe $21,000 based on the list prices of the airfare, hotels, transportation, etc (and tell GM pays full price for a hotel suite in a building they own). That buys you, what, a page 53 ad in Good Housekeeping? Instead, they provided a small group of people who are influential in their respective owner/enthusiast communites with information, the opportunity to exchange, and that warm n' fuzzy Saturn family hug feeling so they can go back home and communicate positive news about Saturn to more of their friends and family and associates who just may be influenced into buying a Saturn, or at the very least considering one.

As far as sponsorships, Saturn has a Mobile Events Tour that travels the country with new product. I've seen them twice at local events in my metro area. The 2008 VUE was the 'official vehicle' of the Boston Marathon. Saturn used to offer startup packs for local car clubs as well as Saturn Motorsports-endorsed racing. They no longer do for a variety of reasons, but vocal outcry of the lack of such events and support may have Saturn reintroducing their club packs and perhaps Motorsports in the future. You also have to remember that Saturn dealerships are responsible for sponsoring local events. The dealers in my area have sponsored school car washes, baseball games, blood drives, and countless other community events on and off the lots.

And as for how much GM benefits from this Brand Advocate Meeting? I don't know the answer and neither do you. No one outside GM knows and I'm not sure even they do because this is the first time they've held such an event.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A minimal investment gives key people in the Saturn division the opportunity to understand first-hand why those that own their products like and enjoy their products. It gives them a chance to hear what legacy and first-time owners like, dislike, and would like seeing improved on current and future models. It also provides the opportunity for key figures in the Saturn enthusiast community to meet each other for the first time at a Saturn-based event and foster relationships based on this. C&G was probably the only organization that did not members that regularly meet offline. The numerous tuning and performance clubs as well as SKY owner associations have regular and frequent meets that promote the Saturn product on their own.

The entire concept of a Brand Advocate is creating self-sustaining, independent (usually word-of-mouth) advertising for your product/company that requires a minimal of support or investment from that your company. Saturn doesn't pay these organizations to promote their brand; they do so themselves through track events, campouts, day trips, and scenic cruises. Mind you, this isn't fifteen guys with their old Mustangs who meet at the IHOP every third Tuesday and talk about how much better their classic are compared to new Fords; these members are passionate about the brand and the product and have 'converted' many of their family and friends. Stories of Saturn owners bringing former import drivers dissatisfied with the shuck-and-jive Toyo/Honda way of retailing cars into the Saturn family are prolific and downright remarkable considering that - until recently - the cars they made weren't anything special.

What did this cost GM? Maybe $21,000 based on the list prices of the airfare, hotels, transportation, etc (and tell GM pays full price for a hotel suite in a building they own). That buys you, what, a page 53 ad in Good Housekeeping? Instead, they provided a small group of people who are influential in their respective owner/enthusiast communites with information, the opportunity to exchange, and that warm n' fuzzy Saturn family hug feeling so they can go back home and communicate positive news about Saturn to more of their friends and family and associates who just may be influenced into buying a Saturn, or at the very least considering one.

As far as sponsorships, Saturn has a Mobile Events Tour that travels the country with new product. I've seen them twice at local events in my metro area. The 2008 VUE was the 'official vehicle' of the Boston Marathon. Saturn used to offer startup packs for local car clubs as well as Saturn Motorsports-endorsed racing. They no longer do for a variety of reasons, but vocal outcry of the lack of such events and support may have Saturn reintroducing their club packs and perhaps Motorsports in the future. You also have to remember that Saturn dealerships are responsible for sponsoring local events. The dealers in my area have sponsored school car washes, baseball games, blood drives, and countless other community events on and off the lots.

And as for how much GM benefits from this Brand Advocate Meeting? I don't know the answer and neither do you. No one outside GM knows and I'm not sure even they do because this is the first time they've held such an event.

Thank you.

Sorry to be curt, but I needed a cogent explanation. I feel alot better.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is what I would have told Saturn:

1. Fix the front end of the Aura-STAT. Open up the foglamps and use honeycomb instead of horizontal lines on the grill.

2. rear seat armrest.

3. Ditch the Cirrus wheels for 5 spokes.

4. Saturns website is the worst i have ever seen. It needs a complete overhaul with more pics and less flash.

5. Ditch Saturns ad agency. The ads currently are awful.

6. 4 Door Astra. And build them here-hopefully they will need more than 30,000 of them.

7. Subcompact. Saturn needs a car to counter the Yaris, Fit, Versa, Accent. Bring over the Corsa.

8. Accept GM card rebates. Whatever reason they gave not to are wrong. No GM Card rebate, I'm not buying a Saturn.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow enzl, WTF? Saturn is trying to build the spirit of people and fans having ownership in a brand and you can just sit there and $h! all over it?

Harley for years made a crapload of worthless motorcycles by ricer standards ( I am not a hog fan either)......yet, tell me please which bike brand is most die hard? Sometimes its not all about perfection. I think we see some of that with Saturn. build the fan base in ways where people can invest their enthusiasm, not just their 20 minutes they spend reading consumers reports.

We all know where GM vehicles are deficient. What Saturn is doing here is not all about that. Saturn is attempting to re-engage their fan base. I only see Hoyotha doing that with the prius bangers. Show me a bunch of people in this country who have emotional investment in their Toyotas. I would venture to say many Toyota lovers have about as much emotion in their personal relationships too. That group compares nothing at all to the brand loyalty at Daytona bike week.

Toyota would rather spend the 21k buying off a southern politician for more big fat American tax breaks than organizing an event to build the fan base.

so maybe lay off a bit and allow saturn to see what they can do with this, ok?

Besides, this is a GM fansite...and we also happen to be some of GM's biggest critics. Would you expect an enthusiast to write scathing things about their own passion? But what did you expect fly would write? The same biased trash that 3/4 of the Auto 'journalists' do? It's a law you know, that those guys don't get paid for their piece unless they bash GM Ford and the USA relentlessly.

my beef with saturn is still the GM card thing.

Edited by regfootball
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0



  • Who's Online (See full list)

    There are no registered users currently online

  • Who's Chatting

    There are no users currently in the chat room