This week it was announced that Roger Penske had cut a deal to buy the Saturn brand from General Motors. What a terrific development for Saturn and the Saturn brand.
A few weeks ago I was with a GM marketing guy and he made the observation that “you can tell that finance guys made all the decisions about the future of GM, because marketing folks would have kept Saturn and Hummer.”
The point he was making is that a marketing person would have recognized the inherent value in the Saturn and Hummer brands. It looks like Hummer is going to get a second chance with a new Chinese owner and it remains to be seen if Hummer can successfully navigate changing consumer sensibilities to build a solid and profitable business in the US.
Saturn on the other hand grabbed the brass ring.
Much has been written about how Hal Riney created a great automotive brand image for Saturn and how years of product neglect by GM made it impotent in the marketplace. Most recently Saturn has gotten some new product which is highly regarded and that has helped immensely. The Saturn distribution network has always been one of the industry’s best and now they have the Penske organization behind them.
Penske understands what it takes to be successful. The fact that they bought the Saturn brand and distribution network while dodging the factories speaks volumes. Saturn will now get product from any number of international manufacturers and not have to deal with the GM cost structure. Sounds like suddenly Saturn may be able to do something it never could under GM…make a profit.
That’s great in and of itself, but here’s the thing I’m excited about. This is a chance to resuscitate and reinvent the Saturn brand. It’s a chance to make it the powerful force that it could have been years ago had it not been neglected. What a great opportunity for all the people involved with Saturn and Saturn marketing.
As a marketing guy, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more exciting automotive job than as part of the Penske team that will rebuild the Saturn brand.
Sign me up, rebuilding the Saturn brand would be a great gig.