October 6, 2009

Saturn Cars: When Big Tries A Little

We’ve seen it before:  Plank Road Brewing from Miller.  Ted from United.  Saturn from GM.
Occasionally, the ‘intrapreneurial’ spirit works.
Saturn was the small car company feel and action from within the belly of the GM behemoth.
But it died.  Even a sale to the smart, savvy car-man turned conglomerate Roger Penske couldn’t happen 11th hour.
Why did Saturn fail in the first place?
• little has a hard time getting resourced OR left alone to thrive
• little is held to same standards as big in P&L, reporting — and expected to fit the big system in distribution, timelines, velocity or other biz metrics
• little is sometimes staffed the same as big — or with big minded people who don’t fit
Sadly, this wasn’t Saturn’s fault.  
And we would think there’s still some positive brand residue there.  But it’s only worth a little — until in message and in mode, someone makes a big shift forward with it again.