Ad it up, Jay

Not much time today due to work commitments. Have fun y’all.

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We’ve talked about ads here at Trollhattan before. I still owe everyone my thoughts on what would be a good ad for the 9-7x. I’ve always liked Saab’s advertising. Like the cars, it always came accross as being pretty subtle, and very clever.

Fortunately, we don’t get a lot of Saab ads here in Australia. I say ‘fortunately’ because some of the more recent ads I’ve seen from the US really haven’t been up to the standard.

Well, Jay has been talking ads recently, and Autoweek had him covered (SC newshound, Edusaab, picked this up yesterday, but I couldn’t find a source to quote, so held it off).

LA MALBAIE, Quebec — Executives of Saab Cars USA Inc. want the company’s advertising to place greater emphasis on vehicle performance.

Current ads for the new 9-7X SUV and 9-3 sedan stress the distinctive design of the vehicles and the individuality of their owners. But the ads say little about vehicle performance.

“We’re doing a very nice job in saying Saabs are different,” says Jay Spenchian, who became Saab general manager in April. “We need to evolve a little bit more into saying why they’re different.”

Spenchian said at a press event here this month that he has asked Saab’s ad agency, Lowe & Partners Worldwide of New York, to “dial up some of the performance elements” in the broadcast and print ads it creates.

‘Slow’ ads

“Some of the ads are a little — I don’t want to say soft, but slow,” Spenchian says. “They lack a little bit of the energy that I really think is Saab’s brand character.”

Spenchian says Lowe agrees with the new approach.

Hollie Geren, a spokeswoman for Lowe, says the agency is working with Saab on a new campaign. She declined further comment.

Through the first five months of 2005, Saab sold 15,432 vehicles in the United States, down 6.7 percent from the year-ago period.

Chris Cerrina, president of Parkfield Motors in Bergenfield, N.J., heads the Saab International Dealer Council. He says he shares Spenchian’s desire for more emphasis on vehicle performance in marketing and advertising.

Saab’s scheduled introductions of a 9-3 sport sedan in September and a convertible in October provide an opportunity to stress the car’s V-6 engine and other performance features, Cerrina says.

“We’ve got a pretty daunting task,” Cerrina says. “We’re looking to rebuild the brand.”

Spenchian, 46, came to Saab from Cadillac, where he was marketing director. Cadillac helped revive sales in recent years by using a Led Zeppelin soundtrack in its TV commercials. But Spenchian says a similar hard-rock approach would not be appropriate for Saab.

“When I say performance, do we have to say it?” he says. “I think we can show it. We can feel it from the music used in the ads, what gets depicted in the ads.”

Jim Sanfilippo, executive vice president of automotive consulting company AMCI in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., says Spenchian is applying lessons he learned at Cadillac in emphasizing performance in Saab’s marketing.

“Launching the (Cadillac) CTS, he knows that people who buy these cars expect performance,” Sanfilippo says. “The 9-3 is very competitive against the BMW 3 series. It corners, brakes and accelerates very close, and most people don’t know it. Getting Saab to get credit for that performance is key.”

Break with tradition

Saab spent $64.9 million last year to advertise in U.S. media, TNS Media Intelligence reports. It spent $12.3 million on advertising in the first three months of 2005, TNS says.

Spenchian says Saab earmarks about 10 percent of its marketing budget for nontraditional advertising, such as Internet ads and consumer events, including test drives. That share could rise to 20 percent to 30 percent within the next year, he says.

“With Saab, since you have an awareness problem, you do get a pretty strong return from traditional media,” Spenchian says.

But “unique and interesting” events also can draw consumer attention to the brand, he adds.

GM seeks to increase sales in large metropolitan areas, especially on the East and West coasts.

Spenchian says he hopes the 9-3 convertible will become a halo vehicle for Saab in big markets such as Los Angeles.

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