More on Born From Jets

I’d like to pick up on a couple of things mentioned in comments regarding the Born From Jets advertising campaign and expand on them a little.

Why is this important? The US is the single largest market for Saab (single country – I know Europe as a whole rivals it) so this campaign is pretty important and it seems to polarise people that visit here.

Turbin argues in comments that a lot have blasted the campaign and perhaps gone a little over the top in doing so. Me included. He goes on to reason why the link is legitimate and I agree with him 100% for reasons I’ll outline below.

I have been negative about the campaign from time to time, which is mainly a reflection of the feedback that’s received here about it. So allow me to air some fuller thoughts about it and about the Move Your Mind slogan that’s used elsewhere.

The idea of Born From Jets resonates with me as an enthusiast. As an enthusiast I’m familiar with, and proud of, Saab’s history in aviation and the pioneering steps they took in developing their first automobiles. I’ve written previously on this site and others about why the claim of Born From Jets is relevant and worthwhile (here and here for example), and yes, I’ve also criticised it sometimes, too.

I was drawn into Saab because I drove one. Not because of an ad that I saw. I don’t ever recall seeing Saab ads here in Australia and at the time I probably wouldn’t have taken notice anyway. A Saab seemed way out of my league when I was in my early 20s. As an enthusiast I now know a lot more and I can relate to the heritage. I felt a real sense of pride pulling up next to a mounted Viggen aircraft on the way back from Kinnekulle and taking photos there, knowing that my own car was named after that jet. It was great.

But I wonder about the appeal it has to people that don’t know the brand. I wonder what it tells them about the performance of the car in real life?

When I first got into Saabs the cars I saw and drove were noticeably different than the cars I was used to. And this is why the Move Your Mind slogan really resonates with me as an appropriate one for Saab to use.

Another reason I like it is that Move Your Mind allows you to advertise anything about the brand. It’s a very broad concept that can be applied to a whole array of different features or philosophies. Whether it be a commercial about driving your convertible to the ski fields in winter or the benefits of a turbo-four vs a six-pot – the options a endless.

Born From Jets seems to tie Saab into advertising one aspect of the cars and little else. Yeah, there’s several ways in which the jet heritage influences car design and I suppose individual ads could be made about each of these – design, performance, safety etc – all key components to Saab’s ethos. But that hasn’t happened so far and who knows if it will?

Move Your Mind just seems to be an appropriate slogan that really offers itself to a myriad of options and a long term brand building effort, which is one of the things an advertising campaign should do.

The other comment I’d like to feature here is one dealer’s feelings about what’s going on. He calls it a brain fart but I think that’s an attempt at self-effacing humour:

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.


As I said, I can appreciate BFJ as an enthusiast because it means something to me. I’m not sure what it’d mean if I weren’t.

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  1. That dealer is so right. While I always feel a surge of joy knowing that my mom’s 185-hp 9-5 wagon was “born from” … which jet, exactly? (Doubly complicated, given that Saab was still producing turboprops back when it started making cars…) But it’s Saab’s PRACTICAL side – the fact that they’re BMWs that can perform in the snow, Audis that don’t weigh 400 lbs over budget, Volvos that are actually fun to drive, Lexuses with engines that want to play, Mazdas with an interior you might want to sit in, Volkswagens that aren’t bought by every college student since forever…and safer than the lot of them put together…that’s what makes a Saab worth a look.
    Sure, they’re great fun to drive, but so’s a Bimmer. But I’m a New Englander who cares for the environment, so I need a car that’s good in the snow but gets good fuel economy. You’re pretty much only looking at Saab there (though others are catching up.) Saabs are also big for their classes, with great back seats, and very safe.
    So the dealer’s right – maybe Saab’s biggest assets aren’t the things that will make your heart race. Maybe it’s those practical, smart details – like the IIHS top pick, for instance – that we should be stressing.

  2. MJL – I couldn’t agree more. I’m in the northeast too and it was an easy decision. I want a car that’s good in the snow, has some pep, gets great gas mileage and is somewhat luxurious.

    ..Oh, and did I mention a great value for the price?

    BFJ doesn’t showcase any of these things.

  3. The dealer is so right! Saab has always been slow on bashing the big drumb on what tho do good.
    I think I saw some old ads where the compared Saab against BMW. They were good. Also I always liked the State of Independence because their the had some info.

    But as the salesguy comment let people know what the cars can do and you get it cheaper than bimmer.

    In the end it will also reflect in reviews because critics will write about it

  4. Some one at Saab needs to work out waht they stand for and then build an image based around it. Like them or not we all clearly know what an Alfa, Volvo, Mercedes and BMWare. Maybe a Saab is like the winner of the in the Decathlon – never gets the headlines but is recognised by those who know as the best all round competitor in the games.

  5. A recent article in the Plain Dealer showed how Cadillac missed the boat in advertising to the wrong crowd between 1997 and 2007. They kept advertising it as an old person’s car until Lexus took over the top spot.

    What needs to happen? SAAB USA needs to rethink their ad campaign with the help of those who know (1) Americans and (2) SAAB owners best. What works in Europe and Australia may not work as well in the states. And what might work for Pontiac will be offensive to SAAB owners. In any case, something needs to change.

  6. Well, reading all tehse posts in this thread and the other regarding ‘BFJ’, there’s one thing that strikes me as obvious. What you’re all saying here is not strictly that BFJ is the problem, but that Saab aren’t being successful enough, that unless something radical is done, Saab might go *pooof*.


    Yesterday I received the last issue of Teknikens Värld, and there’s a short editorial that says:
    “What Would Saab Be Without The Ethanol Monopoly?
    “The Swedish sales figures for Saab is all but a positive read for the Trollhättan plant. Thus far this year, the mark has lost 9 percent. The reasons behing the drop can be attributed to the 9-5 that has lost considerably. In September the sales figures were a third less than the same period the previous year. So far this year the loss is 25 percent, which has pushed teh 9-5 back to a fifth spot. Before the end of this year, that may very well be a sixth spot since VW Golf, now on the sixth spot, has attained a successful Combi in its range.
    “The figures indicate two things.
    “On one hand the danger of having only two models in its range, when one model loses attraction, the whole construction crumbles. The fact that the 9-3 is advancing means nothing when the 9-5 drops faster than the 9-3 gains.
    “And on the other hand on the predicament when other car makes start introducing ethanol powered models into their ranges. It is clear that the 9-5 sold well as long as the competition lacked ethanol models. Today there are the Volvo V50, C30 and V70 with ethanol engines. Renault, Citroen and Peugeot are also in the game, as are Skoda and VW. This spring brings Ford Mondeo. Saab need their SUV and the replacement for the 9-5, and that fast.”

    To me, the above is more true than any ‘BFJ’ comercial or not. As long as Saab can lose 50% of their sales with a single model, Saab will not be able to survive.
    If Saab were to believe that the competition won’t catch up, Saab’s doomed.

    At work, many potential Saab ethanol drivers are waiting to get a new car till spring, when they can choose between the Ford, Volvo, Saab and French cars, and possibly even the Audi’s!

    I know we’re all supposed to love Saabs, but is it really adviceable to recommend a 9-5 with its roots in the mid-90’s, when you can get a gen 6 V70 (or the Mondeo) or a new A4 Avant?

    So, is Saab any worse than those? No, but they haven’t progressed since then.

    So here we are, complaining that ‘BFJ’ won’t sell, when in fact there is not all that much to sell in the first place.
    Saab need a SUV ad a new 9-5 – and fast. After that, the comercial could be ‘BFJ’ or not I believe.

  7. Trakdah,

    It’s all true that you write about. But it is like mixing pears and apples (swedish saying, but I guess you are swedish)

    The question here is if the ad is doing thier work. I am not convinced that BFJ is the best way because it doesnt say anything about the cars (that are potent).

    The other thing is that the 9-5 is way to old and they got to get a new model to next year…

    But Saab and GM are probably pretty clear about this. two more models and a new 9-5 would praobably work wonders

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