Rethink Your Blog, Laura Ries

Saturn1.jpgSaturnShopper.jpgSaturn2.jpgI typically agree with brilliant brand consultant Laura Ries. But not about the new Saturn campaign.

Ries bashes Saturn’s new Rethink American/Rethink Excess (click “Watch the TV Ads”) advertising campaign in her blog, saying:

“Rethink excess? America is all about excess. From huge gas guzzling SUV’s, trucks and Hummers to huge supersized meals and waistlines, excess seems to be the American motto.” 

Hmmm, I think that’s that’s the whole point, Laura. To a large number of young people, that’s exactly what America stands for—and that’s exactly what they don’t like about it.

That’s why I was intrigued by the positioning: It taps into a point of view that a growing number of young people have. (After all, not everyone drools over the daily exploits of Paris and Britney.)

My quibble is with the creative. The consumers who will be most responsive to the “Rethink Excess” positioning are also those who are most resistant to being manipulated by advertising and marketing. So this campaign may wear its strategy on its sleeve far too prominently to be effective.

Volkswagen has been a master at mining this niche of the car-buying market with far more subtle and creative ads that resonate with alternative-minded 20s/30s consumers. I think if Saturn wishes to compete for this customer, it may need to rethink its overt, rock-anthem creative… not its positioning.

Will “Rethink Excess” get the Saturn brand on course? I’m not sure—nor am I sure young people will like Saturn’s cars once they visit a showroom—but I think there’s more to the strategic positioning of this campaign than critics recognize. Let’s see how it evolves first before dismissing the concept outright.

You can’t tell the whole story in a 30-second ad. Perhaps we’ve only seen the trailer for things to come.