The independence theme reflects Saab's products and its customers, Krondahl says.
"When we develop products, we try to find unique solutions and don't follow what everyone else is doing," he says. "Our customers want that type of product."
Saab has resisted offering anything but four-cylinder, turbocharged engines. In contrast, competitor BMW AG won't sell any four-cylinder vehicles here.
While Saab styling has moved from the quirky lines of the 1970s and 1980s, the company has snubbed automotive fads and continued to offer what it calls "Scandinavian design."
To show this spirit, the tag line appears in corporate TV spots flying on a flag similar to that of a state or national flag. The announcer describes this state as "utterly free," and "where the national pastime is a game of 'What if?'
"What if all cars were turbocharged," the announcer says, and "what if innovation were the official currency?"
The turbocharged engines are played up in a commercial touting the 9-3 sedan and in a second spot showing the new 9-3 convertible.
The media mix will lean 75 percent to TV commercials, 20 percent to newspapers and the remaining 5 percent to radio, consumer print and Internet ads, says Claire Capeci, Lowe's senior vice president heading the Saab account.
The "Welcome to the state of Independence" campaign was delayed for 30 days at the urging of dealers because of the war with Iraq, says Chris Cerrina, owner of Parkfield Motors Inc. in Bergenfield, N.J., who heads Saab's dealer council.
Cerrina says dealers are thrilled with the advertising because "it shows Saab as a major player, what the Saab state of mind is and what the products can do for us.
"It's one of the most exciting campaigns we've had in a long time," Cerrina says.
Saab sold 15,852 cars in the first quarter, up from 12,575 a year earlier. April sales were 4,967, up 45 percent from 3,437 a year earlier.