Saab Versus Conventional Advertising


NORCROSS, Ga., March 30 /PRNewswire/ — How do you significantly increase awareness for a distinctive niche brand, differentiate it from competitors who have more marketing dollars to spend — and execute it successfully, with a common theme, in 48 different markets around the world? Saab set out to meet this challenge two years ago, as the company began intensive work to define a long-term, consistent and global brand strategy that could be implemented in every area of the operation, from technical product development and design, to an all-inclusive integrated Marketing System.

Saab’s objective was to create a seamless brand experience, equally impactful wherever Saab’s active owners and prospects lived and traveled. “Our first step was to conduct extensive studies of the global premium car market, both from a competitor and customer perspective,” said Mikael Eliasson, brand management and market area director, Saab Automobile AB. “We soon discovered that customer psychographics were remarkably similar around the world.”

One significant result of the brand development process is an all-new Saab brand campaign that not only delivers a universally understood message, but one that is relevant, impactful and adaptable globally, nationally and locally. The campaign debuts in the U.S. market on April 12, with a special “sneak preview” billboard planned for Times Square, New York on March 29.

Saab vs. Conventional Wisdom

One of Saab’s traditional strengths is its heritage of developing insightful solutions that challenge conventional wisdom. This strength is the backbone of the “vs” campaign. Each execution of the campaign blends powerful imagery with a polarizing headline. The objective is to first intrigue the reader or viewer, then deliver a targeted Saab product and brand message that exemplifies Saab’s philosophy of solving technology or design issues.

Every headline begins with the challenge “Saab vs.” followed by an unlikely theme, concept or institution. For example, one print ad features the headline “Saab vs. Steroids.” The supporting imagery of a massively muscled statue, towering over a Saab 9-5 sedan, suggests: “Anabolic steroids build muscle mass. More muscle increases strength. In car terms, this means a bigger engine and more horsepower. But this is not the essence of a car’s acceleration. Torque is. It’s the pulling power you need to move quickly. Through turbocharging, the Saab 9-5’s engine delivers maximum torque at low and medium rpm, the range where most driving takes place. And, with less weight, agility is enhanced. As is exhilaration.”


Initial advertising will include themes that address “Saab vs. Parenthood,” “Saab vs. Russian Roulette,” “Saab vs. Vivaldi,” and “Saab vs. Puritans.” One of the first publicly shown campaign elements is a Times Square billboard, headlined “Saab vs. Oxygen Bars.” This execution focuses on the Saab 9-3’s inherent ability to infuse owners with all the natural oxygen they require — free of charge — just by lowering the fully automated convertible top.

The “vs” concept is fully integrated, and is part of Saab’s global Integrated Marketing System. The system is a comprehensively mapped out program of marketing, and relationship building tools, ranging from sales literature to customer CD-ROMs, retail environment, promotional and aftersales components.

From Broadcast to Pointcast

Saab customers around the globe are active, affluent and very well- educated individuals who avoid conventional status symbols or pretensions. They have a sense of adventure, shy away from traditional luxury icons, and are as confident in the selection of brands as they are in their chosen lifestyle. They embrace technology, prefer educational television, love to drive and travel, and demand substance, not fads. To reach out to these customers, Saab’s long-term media strategy has been significantly refined.

Beginning with the “vs” campaign, Saab will be concentrating media spending on narrowly targeted, rather than mass market mediums. “We want to own specific mediums already populated by prospective Saab customers,” said Kristi August Smith, national advertising manager, Saab Cars USA. “Instead of a broadcast approach, where a large percentage of our marketing investment may increase awareness, but not necessarily consideration, we are focusing on narrowcasting — even pointcasting. We want to get our message to those prospective customers whose psychographic and demographic profile matches the values our brand delivers.” Saab will significantly increase media allocations on the Internet, cable television, relationship marketing programs, promotional initiatives and targeted print.


Consistency, Now and For the Future

The “vs” campaign is designed for the long-term. “Global consistency and integration from product to customer communications is the fastest, most cost- effective and impactful way for us to achieve the results we’re aiming for,” explains Eliasson. “Even more importantly, it allows us to deliver our distinctive tonality, look and feel across all borders, a clear benefit to Saab customers who respect the confidence and quality of our brand.”

“Brand and product communications consistency is essential to Saab’s growth objectives in the U.S. market as well,” explains John Orth, vp, sales and marketing, Saab Cars USA, “especially as we continue to add exciting new products, like the new Saab 9-5 Wagon and 9-3 Viggen. These cars, in addition to bringing Saab loyalists into the showroom, are also attracting an entirely new customer base to Saab, one that may know very little about our heritage, our cars, and our culture. Offering these prospective buyers consistent, clear and compelling messages is crucial.

“Vs” will serve as the common foundation for all Saab brand and product communications for a minimum of three to five years. Eliasson indicates that Saab will be among the leaders in the area of global brand consistency, if not the benchmark.

Global Campaign, Global Team

The international structure of the creative team ensured that all concepts reflected the needs of Saab’s key European and North American markets. Developed within Saab’s global advertising network, Lowe & Partners Worldwide, the campaign was spearheaded by co-creative directors Kerry Feuerman (vice chairman, The Martin Agency, Saab Cars USA Inc.’s national agency) and Jari Ullakko (partner and creative director, Lowe Brindefors, Saab Automobile AB’s Stockholm-based agency), and Andreas Rosenlew, worldwide account director (senior partner, Lowe Brindefors, Stockholm).

SOURCE Saab Cars USA Inc.


  1. Very different kind of advertising but suits Saab very well. It actually makes you want to read the ad and discover something interesting, instead of the usual marketing talk.

  2. I would like to find some Saab vs artificial intelligence advertising or posters these were definitely 20 years ahead of their time. Like most Saab engineering.

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