Some thought on ads

Thanks to Ryan in DC, I got a peek at one of the new 9-7x ads earlier today. I’m still away from the office (staying at my sister’s place in Melbourne now), so I can’t upload it. I’ll put it up on the site early next week.

I don’t know if this is being aired in the US yet, but if some of you have seen it, maybe you could share your thoughts.

The ad features a valet parking guy who’s trying to find the ignition – ha-de-ha-ha. Is it just me? Or was this ad deliberately written by Debra Kelly-Ennis, she of the ‘gee-whiz functionality’ quote, as a parting gift to an employer she stopped caring about a long time prior?

Surprise, surprise – they highlighted a ‘quirky’ bit.

Never mind the tweaked suspension. Never mind the torquey engine. Never mind the fact that it’s Saab’s first foray into the SUV marketplace. Never mind the best interior that this platform has ever had.

Let’s show them some dweeb that can’t find where to put the key, coz it’s probably the only thing we can sell the car on.

I don’t want to sound sexist here, but the vast majority of Saab buying decision makers are men. Does this car have absolutely no balls whatsoever??? I know it’s tweaked for power AND comfort, but surely there could be ads about a Saab SUV that emphasise some more of the power and class and less of the quirk. It’s a freakin SUV, not a hybrid revision of the Goggomobile!!

Here’s the motto of today’s post. Bob and Jay – listen up please.

More oomph. Less quirk.

Say it after me, Bob.

More oomph. Less quirk.

Your turn, Jay:

More oomph. Less quirk.

Quirk ceases to be quirky when you sell it to the mainstream. Just give the people the oomph and let them discover the quirk for themselves. Hint: the understatement is intentional.

More oomph. Less quirk.

As I said earlier – I’ll post the ad next week. It’s an 8MB download, so it’s not for the fainthearted, but it’s worth it in order to see what you all think. I’ll also post my treatment for what I’d do for a 9-7x ad. It’s good. I think it’s real good. Call it my first self-provided job interview for GM Saab, Canada.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE – Saab is “intelligently inspired”. Each GM brand has it’s differentiation point and apparently “intelligently inspired” is Saab’s. I don’t necessarily disagree per se, but I am unsure if it’s an appropriate platform for pushing your global premium brand.

I feel like I’m stuck in an automotive version of ‘Revenge of the Nerds’.

Read on for the full story behind this……..(and yes, I think my ad treatment will still work)

From Adweek

GM Engineers Brand Strategy Overhaul
May 25, 2005
By Kevin Ransom

DETROIT
As part of a new image strategy, General Motors plans to accentuate certain words or phrases in describing each of its vehicle brands, said Betzy Lazar, GM’s general director of advertising and media operations.

“With Chevy, we’re using ‘expressive value,’ for Cadillac it’s ‘performance luxury,’ Hummer is ‘daring,’ Saab is ‘intelligently inspired,’ Saturn is ‘engaging,’ GMC is ‘professional grade’ and Pontiac is ‘seductive performance,'” said Lazar.

The automaker spends about $3.2 billion annually on U.S. brand and dealer advertising, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. GM last month following a review consolidated its media business with GM Planworks (a unit of Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest). Interpublic Group’s GM Mediaworks and LCI were the losers in that shootout.

GM last week said it would beef up brand identity for its various divisions by stressing differentiation among models, a policy that could lead to the elimination of some nameplates that are too similar to vehicles in other divisions.

At a speech to the International Motor Press Association in New York, Mark LaNeve, GM’s North American vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, said, “Strong brands win, weak brands lose—end of story. Like we did at Cadillac, we have to make every one of our brands more relevant, more competitive, and more profitable. Each brand has to stand for something very clear in the consumer’s mind, consistently.”

LaNeve also said, “I’d rather have four great Pontiacs that really stand for athletic design than eight … Pontiacs that fail to really deliver on the brand’s promise.”

Lazar concurred: “We’ll be carving out more distinctive positions for our brands and how they go to market. Basically we have Cadillac continuing to be our luxury brand, and Chevy has to be our broad, high-volume foundational brand, and we’ll get our other six divisions to be more focused than they have been.”

The change in strategy would likely drive shifts in media spending, she said. “We adjust our spending for every division annually, and a lot of that is driven by new-vehicle launches, so, as we become more focused on differentiating our brands, you will see that play out in the media plans as well. The better we are at differentiating between the brands, and the targets we’re going after, the more different the media plans will become.”

Lazar declined to comment on the amount of the shift in media spending. “I really can’t quantify that, due to the sensitivities of the upfront,” she said. When asked what specific brands or models would be most impacted by the shift in media spending, Lazar said. “Some of the brands are already moving to their new positioning.

“Pontiac is a good example of a brand that is in transition, with a lot of new products,” she said. “So the positioning of the brands are reflective of those changes. The new Pontiac Solstice work is the result of the new positioning, and a brand like Saturn will be evolving into their new positioning with the new products as they come into the portfolio, like the Sky and the Aura.”

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8 Comments

  1. Hadn’t thought of that, but it sure looks like a Debra Kelly-Ennis leftover. I saw the video, which I was eagerly anticipating, only to see the lamest SAAB ad I’ve ever seen. Maybe they don’t want to advertise the improvements, like the reinforced front end, because it would make the Trailblazer look bad–had to be fixed by SAAB engineers. This is no way to sell an SUV.

  2. i haven’t seen the ad/commercial, and i can’t stand

    suv’s, but i hope the car has more to it than the location of the igintion; although, it’s good to know that they got that right, an least.

    since the ignition spot was part of saab’s “signature,” (which the 9-2x messed up), i can see that gm needed to emphasise it, again.

  3. Swade: As always, great comments. I saw a different ad earlier this week, and it was also a bit limp on the 97x. It was something like the soft-peddle found here: http://www.saabusa.com/saabjsp/97x/index.jsp (click ‘Video Tour’).

    What, exactly, does ‘Finally: an SUV that is as powerful as it luxurious and as sporty as it is practical.’ really mean?

    Oh, and of course, we have to talk about the key between the seats… so what does this mean for the 92x?

  4. “Intelligently Inspired” ??? Sounds odd to me. Hey I always did better in school/career in the sciences so I won’t lay any claims as being a liguistic guru, but shouldn’t it actually read: “Intelligence-Inspired” ? If they must use “Intelligently” wouldn’t it better read “Intelligently-Designed” or something like that ?

    And even if the phrase is grammatically correct, what does that imply for the rest of GM’s brands ? :-O

  5. I can see where intelligently inspired makes sense. My first thought on hearing that was that the implication is that Saabs are “engineering feats”. The phrase brings to mind the engineering culture that Saab has always cultivate.

    That being said, a play on the word engineering would have made more sense than a play on the word intelligence. I guess you have to look at it from a marketing perspective and what a typical customer thinks. When I think of intelligence I think of the engineering behind the car, but others may think the intelligence refers to them. They associate Saab with intelligence, specifically their intelligence in buying a Saab.

  6. It’s almost as if the original tag line was written in Swedish, and this was a direct translation ! Who knows, only those who “find their own roads” will know.

    I always thought the “Find your own road” line sounded Buddhist/Zen :-/

    Posted by: eggsngrits [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 27, 2005 05:52 AM

    What, exactly, does ‘Finally: an SUV that is as powerful as it luxurious and as sporty as it is practical.’ really mean?

  7. I’m sure the intelligence thing is a marketing attempt at word association. Buy one of these and you’ll be….intelligent.

    Slogans come and go. I think they would have been better off coming up with a better ad and sticking with the “Move Your Mind” slogan.

  8. I think “Move Your Mind” is actually the best slogan to date, as it implies car movement, progressiveness and emotional/intellectual stimulation. Take the less-travelled path, so to speak.

    State of Independence was kind of cliche-ish to me

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