That new 9-3 ad – what the creators think….

Say you’re given a job: to do an ad that shows the transformation of one model generation to the next. There’s a strong ‘Jets’ element in previous campaigns, which your client would like you to preserve.

I presume that’s the way it went down.

What we all ended up with was the new Saab 9-3 ad. Comments on the ad weren’t exactly complimentary, but I think that was more to do with the theme of the ad than the actual job they did. Given that they’re most likely following direction given to them by someone else, one could reasonably say that it was a job well done. I may not be too keen on the continuing theme, but given that that’s what they had to work with….

Here’s the ad again:

Now the reason this is all coming up is because the creators of the ad have had a few words to say, and they’re all very pleased with it:

Commercial and feature VFX Supervisor Kevin Rafferty from The Orphanage and celebrated director Joseph Kahn with HSI Productions teamed up with Lowe New York to create an explosive spot to introduce the new Saab 2008 9-3 sedan. The :30 second commercial spot just began airing; to view, go to:

The spot highlights the rebirth of the 9-3 series which includes a sedan, sport combi and a convertible. In this CG-packed spot, which was shot in an airplane hangar and in the 115° degree heat of Death Valley, a jet engine-blast fuels a fireball around the 2007 9-3. Then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the new 2008 car is reborn racing through the sun-drenched stretch of road.

Joseph Kahn is known for his kinetic visual flair and keen understanding of vfx; his “Toxic” music video for Britney Spears won the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Music Video. About his experience with this spot, Joseph Kahn comments: “The Orphanage executed the very demanding task of finding beauty in an act of evolutionary destruction. They brought a compelling level of design artistry to an ambitious idea. I had a great experience working with them.”

A celebrated veteran of the industry, vfx supervisor Kevin Rafferty adds: “After the recent creative successes of Director Bong Joon-ho’s ‘The Host’ and ‘Fantastic Four’, I was excited to work on this visually arresting commercial, especially one with such a well known cutting-edge director.” Rafferty, a pilot himself, relished the challenge to envision and create a CG jet, CG jetblast, CG ‘welding’ sparks, CG molten metal, CG Saabs, CG set extensions and CG ground fog for what he called “an epic amount of elements for a 30 second spot.”

So, they’re all pretty happy with it. If you click on the link in that article you can see it using Quicktime and it does look better with the greater level of detail that the format allows.

I’ll agree. It’s an idea well executed. I’ve got no issues with the execution, it’s just the idea that I’m starting to have reservations about.

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  1. i dunno about the rest of you, but i think its depressing that the 9-3 in the screenshot before the video starts… looks like 99% of the sedans out right now…

  2. I saw the commercial on air for the first time last night (during a Tivo’d episode of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show from Monday). The one I saw was for the SportCombi. On the air, the commercial is pretty good. I would have done something entirely different, but I give the ad at least one thumb up. Quite simply, it’s just a welcome change to see SAAB advertising on air period.

    Also, if SAAB is trying to reach its core deomgraphic in the U.S., it definitely will reach it with ad space on The Daily Show. =-)

  3. You know, when volvo ran the add with the Dad and his daughter in the car, he was teaching her to drive, you got the point of the add. Volvo is a safe car and as a parent, you would be smart to put your kid in this car for college or whaever. I got the point, my wife got the point, my 12 year old daughter got the point as did my 10 year old son. What I can’t understand is why does saab continue to talk about jets ? Talk about the new things saab has to offer. TALK ABOUT THE SAFETY. Jets are not attractive to parents looking for a safe car to send their kid to college in. If Saab is looking to target the 40 year old with a kid on the way to school, if they have the money to send them to a good school, don’t you think they would rather put them in a Saab instead of a Toyota. Toyota is smart, they can’t boast safety so they talk about gas milage and a low lease payment. ENOUGH WITH THE JETS THING.

  4. …not a lotta suspense or drama to be created from the theme. you pretty much have to represent, visually, what the words are, and those words don’t leave much to the imagination or leave much room for interpretation. find different ways to juxtapose a jet and a saab, and you’re done.

    like others, i don’t find any technical problems with the commercial. i can see why the creators rejoice; that and riku1100s’s comment.

  5. In the film, television, and commercial industry your body of work acts as a sort of resume. Everyone who worked on this commercial will use it to drum-up follow-on work.

    I know I’m really picky, but the CGI in these commercials looks really fake to me. It looks like a cartoon. I know that CGI technology is to a point now where it’s indistinguishable from reality (starting about a decade ago with Jurassic Park), so I don’t have a lot of patience for CGI that doesn’t look real. I’ll give them a break on humans as that’s the hardest thing to emulate, but machines aren’t nearly as difficult to fake as organic forms. The probably didn’t have a lot of time to make the commercial, so I should probably give them a break on the criticism.

  6. Thats nice they’re happy with it. I’m not. It speaks nothing to the core demographic that buys Saabs and targets a demographic that is excited by flash and not by substance. This ad is an embarrassment to Saab owners who consider their cars to be more than just “jet inspired”. I also cringed when I read that Saab executives were saying how for the price of a well equipped accord, you can buy a 9-3. If we are trying to compete with BMW and the rest of that crowd, who are we really targeting with our ads here? You certainly won’t get premium buyers who value safety, uniqueness, and performance, they see right through the flash and fluff. I’m sick of all this BFJ stuff that tries to pump me up only to tell me..more jet inspired than ever! … oh yeah? I’m not stupid, and neither is your market. Wise up and get to know your market better, and start making smarter, more attractive ads. I know this is america and while as great as the european ads are, they won’t be effective here yet. Still, our advertising now is insulting me and my expectations out of Saab. I understand the need to attract attention, but once you have the attention you need to feed your audience something of substance, which BFJ doesn’t give. In fact its barely even the truth. Anyone in advertising will tell you (at least i would think) that VW makes the best ads. They have for a long time. Audi also makes fantastic ads. You see any of these brands putting out an ad like our current one? Never. VW puts out smartly executed ads about safety and brand loyalty. Audi puts out fantastic ads about performance. If you were tell me what Saab puts out ads about.. could you really even answer that question?

    Rant over.. sorry if I guys know where I stand 🙂

  7. In Defence of BFJ

    There seems many a Saabisti including our host Swade (‘Viggen’ and ‘Aero’ owner, no less) have been unsure about, or just plain slagging, the whole Born From Jets thingy. What, may I ask, is so disagreeable about it?

    SAAB was developing its first jet prototype at the same time as its first car prototype with common resources and staffing. Advancing SAAB was a foremost consideration with both projects, through jet-power, through making a fresh automobile concept. One can well ask “what the hell a Saab 9-3 has to do with a jet?”, a topic that has been done to death. The very same question could be asked of the Ursaab. I can comfortably say that the 9-3 retains many principles in common with Ursaab including FWD, safety, construction and appropriate motive power. The Ursaab wasn’t really ahead of the curve but did things with a fresh perspective.

    SO, moving on, Clarkson pointed out that SAAB has stood for so many things over the years that it now stands for nothing. So what should it stand for folks? Move Your Mind sounds great but isn’t that just a bit fuzzy and over-intellectual? Hardly aspirational. Swade linked to an article the other day from the UK that pointed out that car advertising is rarely about getting new customers but reaffirming existing customers’ choice. Ie. making SAAB owners feel smug that we’ve made the right choice.

    Why are so many ruffled by the BFJ thing then? Because it makes SAAB seem low-brow or light on substance, or because it makes us as SAAB owners feel as being seen in that way? Is it because so many people have trashed the aircraft relationship that we now believe them? On the contrary for me, my 9-3 has the linear acceleration feel of a jet launching down the runway. Its turbo inline-4 screams and wooshes its head off when I put the foot down. Both my SAABs are safe, functional, efficient and more than one passenger has commented on how they feel like personal jets inside, without knowing the heritage. Be proud of it folks.

  8. Allow me please, to add my .02 on this one and hopefully I will not offend anyone.

    The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In my opinion, sitting here on the last day of the month watching tumble weed roll through my lot instead of customers, I am of the opinion that this ad strategy is a complete failure.

    Seeing as the vast majority of the public knows nothing about Saab, other than of course we built jets, would it not make sense
    to try and educate and inform? Something along the lines of fact-benefit know, The Saab 9-3 has been rated the Top Safety Pick from the IIHS three years running, which means to you Mr / Mrs. Consumer you and your family have a better chance of living when that drunk driver runs a red light and broadsides you. Gee Mr. / Mrs. Consumer, did you know Saab are experts in turbo charging which means to you power, performance and excellent fuel economy? Not the best I can think of as the numbness has really set in but I think you get the idea.

    The sales number look abysmal and hanging the success of the company on the new 9-3 facelift is nowhere near enough. Tell people about our cars. If you don’t want to let go of the BFJ theme at least tell people WHAT IT MEANS TO THEM.

    “Saab is Born From Jets, which means to you, the average person_____________. Fill in the blank somebody please!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing my brain fart with me.

  9. Uncomfortabley Numb: That’s why my old Saab dealer now is loaded with new BMW’s.. Well said Sir. Your thoughts are not a brain fart, they are fact.

  10. Numb – very good insights. I couldn’t agree more.

    I’m not nearly a Saab enthusiast like most of you here. I’ve been looking at purchasing a Saab now for 2+ years, and still haven’t purchased one. Saab’s advertising campaigns don’t really impact my decision making, but I couldn’t agree more that BFJ appeals to only a niche group.

    While the new ad is well-done in the CG sense, it lacks substance and mass appeal. Journalism 101 – good writing and a well thought out story matter most.

  11. I’m not only a happy Saab owner, I’m also in “the industry” as they say. This spot is a triumph of technique over content. All it tells me (or a prospective 9-3 owner) is that if you BBQ the hell out of the old car, you get a new one. Uh yeah, OK

  12. Sorry for being rude again, but

    A certain dr. Porsche used to design tanks to a certain mr Hitler. For some reason Porsche (nor) VW do not advertise: ‘Born from Nazi Tanks’…

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