My 0.02c on that new US Saab 9-3 ad

I guess it’d be too much to let this ad pass my radar screen without saying something about it…..

Comments in the original post for this ad were pretty scathing, and I guess I don’t have too much to add that’s going to give Saab any relief. I think Wulf hit the nail on the head:

If this came from the old advertising agency, I canโ€™t wait to see the work from the new one. If this is from the new agency, someone please call Mr. Shannon and ask what is up with this

For a major refresh of Saab’s biggest selling model – a car that’s going to beget a new XWD performance variant as well as a XWD SportCombi mild offroader – this really does seem to show a major lack of imagination. It’s not so bad that it offends me at all, but with so much on the line and such a great new product to promote, I was expecting so much more. It’s one thing to continue on a theme that’s given you good survey results, but this doesn’t seem to extend on the theme or give any new depth or connection to it. It’s just really….shallow.

This might put a kink in my relationship with SaabUSA and should I ever get the opportunity, this is definitely going to make meeting the man more than just a little awkward – but where’s Steve Shannon? Did he sign off on this? If so, did he look at it beforehand with a critical mind? Are they getting people that know the brand at all in their focus groups or are they testing it on owners of competitor’s vehicles? If their focus group is uneducated then it’s money that’s not well spent at all. Saab owners are pretty savvy at informing themselves and in my experience, they’ve got a pretty good BS-detector.

As far as “whodunnit” goes, I believe it definitely would have been the outgoing ad agency as that changeover announcement is too fresh. But I’m quite sure this would have been pitched and developed under Shannon’s tenure.

If so, then I’m really starting to worry about who’s at the wheel for SaabUSA. You’ve got no lease deals for outgoing models, no Euro Delivery program, and now a truly unimaginative and superficial ad for what’s one of Saab’s most important models in recent history. Now that 2008 deliveries to dealerships are starting, there’ll be no more excuses.

Born From Jets was a good opener. It was a good introduction to some of Saab’s heritage. But this is just all teeth and no bite, and something’s got to change about that.

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  1. I kinda like how the jet burns off the old styling, reveling the new styling, but it is a totally superficial ad. “More jet inspired than ever???” Oh, that’s right, all jets have the option of XWD…
    I do not see this ad conquering any new sales that may go to a competitor.
    Autoblog is reporting that GM is pouring $150 MILLION on the ad campaign for the Malibu. So, is SAAB only getting $150.00?

  2. Actually Swade, as I’ve looked at the ad again and thought about it, I actually have gotten offended by it.

    This is a terrible effort on their part and makes me reconsider my planned purchase of the ’08 9-3. If Saab is putting this little effort into Saab, how much long-term support can I expect from them as a customer?

  3. Well said as always SW. From a marketing standpoint this is a complete failure. It overlooks the basics, namely, who is your target market, what are they buying and what are you as an organization selling? In fishing terms this would be referred to as matching the hatch. I guess no one fishes at SaabUsa.

    All sizzle, no steak. Or, just another day on the lake with an empty fish box.

  4. tell us about features, no one cars if it was conceived by a jet, SAABusa needs to get that in their mind. SW should take over Saab usa, im not even joking at least he understands the target audience.

  5. I’m not offended by the ad, but rather disappointed. It is an opportunity lost and feel a lot like a Mach 3 razor blade ad.

    It just seems to me like the larger market for SAAB is just sitting there waiting for some savvy thinkers to just grab and own. This seems to me like they’re setting the bar too low.

  6. LP

    Don’t overanalyze your car buying decision. This ad does not represent the leading indicator of a lack of commitment, it represents an utter lack of imagination at SaabUSA and its ad agency.

    Doing an effective ad would have cost about the same amount of money (or even less, I suspect).

    And if we stopped buying cars based on the weak TV ads run by the manufacturers, no one would be buying new cars at all.

    All objective indicators show that GM is finally beginning to pay some positive attention to Saab, and the future is brighter than it has been in the past.

    So don’t overthink your decision – reduce it to it’s most important elements — do you like the car? Will it make you happy for the 3-5 years you will drive it? Does it fit your financial criteria?

  7. I would add I had hopes that “Born from Jets” might evolve into a more sophisticated ad campaign, but this ad is even more mindless and repetitive than the original set of BFJ ads.

    IMO the average Saab buyer is of above average intelligence relative to the average car-buyer.

    As tempting as it might be for Saab to tap into into the large pool of stupid car buyers, doing so risks alienating their core demographic — people who utilize their brain.

  8. The ad is a bit uninspiring … but it isn’t a failure. Keep in mind that the auto segment is basically nothing but ads with images of cars driving with a voice over listing features. The ads for a Toyota are no different than a ford truck than a Yugo. What SAAB is trying to do here is at least build an image … the relationship to jets is intended to imply speed/power, craftsmanship, agility and dependability.

    As for features … XWD would play on a 30 second tv spot just like any other 4wd system … they are all a bit different, but they all deliver power at all 4 wheels … unless you have something obviously unique that nobody else has (i.e. the thing that parks itself) then a “feature” spot might as well say “IT HAS 4 WHEELS … AND A RADIO.” Think of all the ads now that talk about the car having a “Start” button — do you care? But now it seems that there is no shortage of them out there.

    The time to deal with features is once the buyer is considering a SAAB … either online or in the dealership when you can tell them why XWD is so much better … not just a funny name for the same type of thing.

    Really, all this ad is about is image and brand awareness … hopefully to get people to at least think about SAAB as a potential brand to purchase.

  9. I really don’t understand why the US can’t get the same Euro commercials and adopt the “move your mind” tag line. Wouldn’t that be the most cost effective?

    They are different enough from the mainstream ads and would stick out, I think.

    move your mind > born from jets
    state of independence > born from jets

  10. Am I the only one who likes this new ad ? [blush]

    Although I would have liked the “burnt” product to be a black Turbo X, but I guess the idea was the heat would produce a clean, silver Aero X.

  11. I stated a while back on this site that I have always liked Saab in spite of their awful advertising. If it weren’t for the cars themselves…

    I am only a youngster, but for as long as I have been paying attention to the brand, Saab’s ads have been embarrassing at best. Did it finally get lame enough for everyone else? I don’t find ‘move your mind’ to be particularly captivating either. Seems like insult to injury considering the direction the brand has been going.

    As far as ‘whodunit’ goes, doesn’t it astound everyone that wherever this came from, they probably had several meetings full of people brainstorming on this junk before this finally came out…

  12. x2 on gryphon’s comment about Nina Kinert.

    I think the “Release Me” ad would do quite well when Saab finally “releases” BioPower here in the US.

  13. Greg Abbott-

    Since I can’t pull the trigger on the purchase yet, I can’t help but overanalyze until then. It’s in my nature. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Saab/GM have a way of putting forth half efforts on things that end up hurting the brand and it’s attractiveness over time. Since I have a tendency to own cars a long-time (7+ years), I like to see good execution from the company and a commitment to brand. I don’t want to get into that though, or I definitely WILL start overanalyzing.

    I’m still a bit insulted by the ad. The European ones other people referenced are so much better.

  14. They can’t advertise XWD, it won’t be around until next year. Past that, what changes do they have to advertise? New styling, quieter interior. That’s what this ad says, and besides the cheesy narration, it says it pretty effectively. Why would Saab talk about something you can’t buy yet in an ad? Think, people! Wait until XWD is actually available, and then crap on superficial ads, because until then, “superficial” is all this car has.

  15. Nina Kinert is hot. The 2008 9-3 is hot. X3 on the “I much prefer the EU ad” sentiment. I watch the Nina Kinert ad and I want to run over to my local dealer to see if they have any 08s in stock yet (plus I bought her album on iTunes because of the ad). I watch the latest US ad and I just want to go have a beer…nothing more. Maybe I’m bored from jets?

  16. HAHA I love how the interior is impervious to the jet’s heat…appropriately enough, since Saab didn’t spend any money on the inside for the “all-new jet inspired blah blah blah” 9-3…

  17. SN: LOL! That’s it! I never put the two together, but the Saab BFJ ads do look like a Gillette Mach 3 razor advertisement! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    As for Paul Oakenfold’s “Ready, Steady, Go” soundtrack, it’s so played-out. Not just on the Saab commercials (which really were enough to do the trick), but I’ve now heard it at the car wash while watching their little advertising plasma monitor running some car-related webvideos from a firm called (they had the song running in the background of a piece on some new Ferrari) and I just heard the song this morning on NPR on the way to the airport. Apparently Fox News channel (for those of you outside the U.S. Fox News is a cable/satellite TV news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp) is now targeting CNBC in business news coverage and the commercials they are running regarding this new coverage feature “Ready, Steady, Go” in the background.

    Saab USA could have done themselves (and us) a favor and licenced exclusive advertising rights to the song from Oakenfold’s record company so that the song wouldn’t be so over-used by so many different outlets.

  18. It’s official, I saw the ad for the first time tonight on ESPN Monday Night Football. Within a 30 minute period there must have been 10 auto commercials ranging from Hyundai to MB. The Saab ad looked pretty silly indeed. Hey, but at least we got prime time exposure.

    The best commercial IMHO was for the US Marine Corp. Who is their ad agency? If I wasn’t such an old fart I was ready to sign up. If you can sell getting shot at, I’m thinking you can sell just about anything, no? Maybe even Saabs?

  19. I don’t think it’s that bad, but then again I’m not the one they’re targeting. I thought the “Born From Jets” campaign was a big stupid when it came out, and I’ve been proven wrong because everyone who asks what kind of car I drive says, “BORN FROM JETS” when I tell them…

    My thought is that no money is ever spent on this kind of advertising without some careful demographic studies. I say let’s see if this ad gets people talking.

    Personally, I hate the “more jet inspired than ever,” it sounds like something someone threw out in a board meeting. Pretty lame. You’d think they’d have come up with something else.

    On the XWD, this new 9-3 has received accolades from all over for its excellent implementation of all-wheel-drive, right? Why not have an ad specifically touting the new XWD (one of the reasons I bought Subarus and my Mazdaspeed6 was because of the AWD), and have some of the quotes flying across the screen?

    Definitely not all we would’ve hoped for, but not bad I don’t think. I like how the old styling is blasted off the car… But I think they should’ve shown it in black. ๐Ÿ™‚ Silver just doesn’t do it justice.

  20. Aaron, XWD won’t actually be available for sale until early next year, hence them leaving it out for now. I hope that when it comes we’ll see them give it full exposure. I think it’ll be a case of grss corporate negligence if they don’t.

  21. I was “time shifting” watching of this past Thursday’s episode of The Office today on my TiVo (DVR), which is one of the top-rated shows here in the U.S. It’s the American adaptation of Ricky Gervais’ British original.

    This ad aired during one of the commercial breaks. The good news: Saab is purchasing some high-profile prime-time advertising space. The bad news: they’re polluting it with this low-brow advertising… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Low brow this might be but it has got me thinking. In his hilarious but frightening piece “The Wierd World of Saab Man’ he mentioned that Saab has stood for so many things over the years that it now stands for nothing.

    That is exactly what makes it so bloody hard for people to sell them. Saab is too grey for many to understand. Most don’t have good or bad opinions, they just don’t have an opinion at all.

    Saab is at square one image-wise. No amount of listing of options or features is going to change lack of awareness. People need to know:

    1. Saab exists (still)
    2. Something is new after 5 years of same
    3. Saab stands for something

    This ad maybe be (borderline) crass and may not work in Euro markets but I expect that it will on the whole work in the U.S.

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