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Case Title:

GM's Saturn Story: Integrated Strategy for Communication and Brand Building

Publication Year : 2010

Authors: Dr. Srividya Raghavan, Professor of Marketing, IBS Hyderabad

Industry: Manufacturing


Case Code: MCS0020

Teaching Note: Not Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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The case enables a discussion on how Saturn, a new brand from the GM stable, could occupy a place of prominence in a competitive market through well-thought out and deftly executed integrated marketing communication strategy.. As CEO of General Motors, Roger Smith had to struggle through the rough times for the company. It was the time of intense off-shore competition with Japanese cars making headway into the American market. However, GM came up with an outstanding idea that seemed to have salvaged not just GM but also the American automobile industry. The idea revolutionised the way GM made cars and it was conceptualised as the laboratory for understanding and dealing with competition. This case deals with the strategies that GM adopted in building a brand such as Saturn after having hived off Saturn as a separate division, encouraging industry pundits to call it as ‘a company within company’,

Saturn Corporation was different from its very conceptualisation to its placement in the market. No wonder, the line: ‘A different kind of company, a different kind of car’ has withstood the onslaught of changing times and holds a special place in the hearts of thousands of Americans.

Pedagogical Objectives:

    This case study can be used:

  • To understand the role played by marketing communication tools to reach the target customers and examine the set of marketing communication tools used by brand managers and media agencies
  • To understand the main dictum of IMC process, such as:
  • Customers are the starting point for all marketing communication decisions
  • Importance of unifying multiple messages delivered by different marketing communication tools.
  • Ultimate objective of Influencing behaviour and building brands
  • How to make implementation decisions that determine programme outcome with respect to enhancing brand equity and affecting behaviour
  • To illustrate, in the light of Saturn example, how marketing communication tools can be used effectively to influence the consumer behaviour by building appropriate relationships
  • To understand how a set of implementation decisions determine programme outcome with respect to enhancing brand equity and affecting behaviour
  • To discuss how marketing communication tools can be deployed for measuring the desired impact, taking the feedback and making the necessary modifications.
  • To understand the IMC framework.

Keywords : Marketing Communication, Brand Communication, Integrated Marketing Communication Strategies, Brand Communication Strategies, Saturn, Saturn's Brand Communication Strategies, Brand Architecture and Brand Communication, Brand Building, Death of Salesman and Birth of a Partner, CRM, Brand Equity, Saturn's Brand Equity


  • Genesis of Saturn
  • Building a Brand
  • The Idea of Saturn
  • The Team Approach
  • The Death of the Salesman and Birth of a Partner

  • Customer Relationship at Saturn
  • Sell the Sizzle – Not the Steak
  • Building and Maintaining Brand Equity

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