NO MAN (OR WOMAN) IS AN ISLAND
Saturn is another archetypal name. It is the name of a Roman god of agriculture, thus giving the car rural associations. The planet Saturn has an astrological meaning associated with practical, down-toearth, slow, and painstaking action. Both associations seem absolutely right for a Regular Guy/Gal brand. Moreover, not too long before the company’s founding, a widely printed newspaper article had revealed scientists’ dismay that there was no scientiﬁc explanation for the planet Saturn’s rings. The name then provided a subtle reinforcement of the sense that this company’s success was a kind of miracle. The initial marketing decision to sell the company, not the car, met with great success. Commercials featured workers in the plant sharing their pride at the quality standards of the company and the risks they had taken to believe in a different kind of car company. Ads featured employees reminiscing about cars in their childhood, their sacriﬁces in moving to a new place in what seemed like a Godforsaken area, their pride in being associated with a new kind of company and watching the ﬁrst cars come off the line. What GM was doing was selling the car by association with believable, trustworthy, good-guy workers. The underlying American values of honesty and hard work were clear in the testimony of the workers who shared their belief in the company. Understanding the vulnerability that ordinary people feel, the company later ran ads showing working-class families of various ethnic groups expressing gratitude for Saturn’s one-price-ﬁts-all policy and describing their previous experiences laden with fear that they were being ripped off by manipulative and dishonest car dealers. Saturn’s brand identity was initially consistent and solid, offering a money-back guarantee and demonstrating trustworthiness. When a defective coolant could cause irreparable damage, the ﬁrm recalled 1,836 cars and never resold them. Understanding that what is being sold is belonging as much as cars, the company hosted a reunion of Saturn car owners (with country music, rhythm-and-blues, a barbecue, and removable tattoos), while many local dealers held picnics for those who could not caravan to Spring Hill.1 In fact, many local dealers have sponsored monthly down-home events for Saturn owners, such as ice cream socials and barbecues. 1. Jonathan Bond and Richard Kirshenbaum, Under the Radar: Talking to Today’s Cynical Consumer (New York: Adweek Books, 1998), pp. 188–189.