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June 27, 2001

By Jean Halliday

DETROIT ( -- Saturn Corp. takes to the skies in August as part of the pre-launch of its

The Saturn blimp will provide broadcasters with images shot from above.
first sport utility vehicle.

The General Motors Corp. unit will advertise the Vue sport utility vehicle on a new blimp currently being assembled in North Carolina by the Lightship Co. The leased blimp will show the words Saturn, Vue and in illuminated letters as it travels to events around the U.S. for several months.

'Get a buzz going'
"We were looking for something different to get a buzz going," said Jill Lajdziak, vice president of sales, service and marketing at Saturn, as to why the automaker chose a blimp for its promotion.

A key function of the blimp, dubbed the Saturn Lightship, will be to supply TV networks with aerial footage for broadcast, said Ms. Lajdziak. Saturn will get on-air mentions during those broadcasts.

Ms. Lajdziak declined to discuss the cost, but she said when compared to a TV buy, "this is very affordable when you think this can work for you 24 hours a day, even when it's on the ground."

Rolls out in 2002
Production of the Vue starts late in the fourth quarter, when magazine ads from Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, arrive. The Vue's TV launch from the agency is due in early 2002.

Saturn, still believed to be unprofitable, sold 122,248 cars in the first five months of the year vs. 114,958 units the same time a year ago, according to Automotive News. Saturn said it plans to sell 50,000 Vues in its first full year.

After starving Saturn for new products during most of the 1990s, GM is pouring $1.5 billion into Saturn for several new products in the next few years.

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