Crain News Service
Saab AB has prepared its first global campaign, which it showed to dealers in Barcelona, Spain, Jan. 22. The 'Saab versus' theme broke in Europe last week and is expected to move to the United States in March or April.
The ads tout Saab's penchant to challenge conventional wisdom.
While the theme is global, every country may choose from an inventory of art shot by several fashion and art photographers in locations around the world, said Kerry Feuerman, global co-creative director and vice chairman of the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., which handles Saab Cars USA.
'We wanted to build this brand with a single, unified approach,' said Feuerman, who worked closely in the past year with global co-creative director Jari Ullakko of Lowe Brindfors in Stockholm and with Mikael Eliasson, brand director at Saab AB.
'The campaign is designed to make you think. It's not a typical car campaign,' he said.
The ad push tries to define the brand based on its airplane heritage, car design and safety innovations, as well as performance.
The campaign is heavily print-oriented, with 25 one- and two-page ads already developed. Another 12 are in the works.
All use a headline that begins 'Saab Versus ....'
For example, an ad headlined 'Saab Versus the Police' touts the car's anti-theft transmission, which locks up once the key is removed from the ignition.
'Saab Versus Steroids' discusses the brand's turbocharged engines.
All the ads are 'based on the idea that the brand has challenged conventional thinking from the time it built its first car (in 1947),' Feuerman said.
'You need to read the copy for these ads - you'll want to,' he said.
The budget for the campaign was not revealed. Saab spent $34.8 million in the United States in measured media in the first half of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Saab will introduce a wagon version of its 9-5 sedan in the United States this spring. The wagon stars in the first global TV spot, titled 'Saab Versus Precon-ceptions.'
Saab's global initiative is a positive move for the brand, especially if it wants to match the cachet of other European brands, said auto consultant Susan Jacobs, president of Jacobs & Associates in Rutherford, N.J.
But, she added, Saab's main hurdle and strategic challenge are in its product lineup.
Even though the brand is adding the wagon, the marketer is still sedan-focused.
That lineup 'probably limits their potential,' she added, when most competitors are building exciting, youthful vehicles, such as roadsters and all-wheel-drive sport-utilities.