Saturn uses video iPods to highlight design focus

DETROIT: As Saturn pursues a design-centered brand "revitalization," the GM division has introduced a media relations campaign using the video iPod to help general- interest publications better visualize its offerings.

DETROIT: As Saturn pursues a design-centered brand "revitalization," the GM division has introduced a media relations campaign using the video iPod to help general- interest publications better visualize its offerings.

Saturn, which bows three new models in 2006, will back the launches with efforts touting vehicle design as well as, stellar customer service, the Saturn brand mainstay. The first offering, the Sky roadster, was unveiled in Detroit in this past January and rolls into showrooms next spring.

To tout the car, Saturn created a unique twist to the press kit by sending out about 40 video iPods this fall to editors at lifestyle, general-interest, and fashion magazines. The devices contain a 5 minute video on the car comparing Sky with architectural and fashion landmarks, and a set of high-res photos.

Saturn sent iPods to magazines like Jane, Paper, GQ, and Ebony, hoping they will cover Sky in that design context. Saturn worked with Weber Shandwick on the campaign.

"Sky is a signal of things to come from Saturn," said Randy Fox, product communications manager for Saturn. "We wanted to position ourselves just like a fashion designer would position their next spring collection."

He added: "This isn't your typical horsepower numbers, 0-to-60 time campaign," Fox said.

Fox said that the company would return to focusing on the traditional automotive and enthusiast media much more when vehicles were available for purchase.

Fox said the company had been contemplating non-traditional ways to highlight Sky's design allure just as Apple released its video iPod, which retails for around $300.

"It was a new device that was right at the top of everyone's mind," Fox said. "So we thought, 'Why not use that as the delivery mechanism? Let's not just send another press kit or CD that would be buried in the [editorial] pile."

Fox said Saturn was pursuing a design approach while retaining its traditional brand messaging of dedication to customer service.

"If we lose that, we haven't succeeded," Fox said.

Fox said that Saturn, which also plans to unveil a sedan, Aura and crossover, Outlook in 2006, will use new media for those as well.

"We're going to be reaching out to any media where we feel we have a story to tell," Fox said.

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