Steve Shannon interview – part 1

There were some problems with the full interview being served all at once, so I’ve done what I should have done right from the beginning – broken this interview up into bite-size chunks.

This is the first installation, running a shade over 10 minutes. In this episode, we get an insight into what a General Manager of Saab in any given country actually does with his day.

I thought this was important to cover for a few reasons.

Firstly, I had been providing a reasonable amount of commentary here about Saab’s performance in the US, which is defacto commentary about the performance of the team running Saab in the US. So, who are they and what, exactly do they do? Steve takes us on a run-through of what he does and a quick look at who does what.

Second, I wanted to correct what I thought was a commonly held misconception that the MD of SaabUSA was a god and could command the appearance of a particular product. As you’ll hear, Steve’s job mirrors that of his counterparts in other countries and is largely focused on the promotion and marketing of Saab in that country. Product development still resides in Europe. Saab USA can have an influence, of course, but the buck stops with Jan-Ake and his overseers at GME.

Enjoy the broadcast. I’m hoping to get one of these up per day.


About the broadcast – this interview was conducted on the 6th November, 2007.

Thanks very much to Steve Shannon and Jan-Willem Vester for opening up a spot in their schedules to talk to the Saab enthusiast community.

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  1. On the matter of USA advertising, I’m sure people who work on Madison Avenue are well familiar with the work of their peers. I must say that I have found quite a few luxury car commercials recently that have struck a chord with me and Saab isn’t one of them. I hope this new ad agency really turns around the BFJ campaign. I don’t object so much to the “Born From Jets” campaign as much as the execution of the advertisements. It’s all fluff and no substance. I know there are extremes and you can’t bore potential buyers by reading from the features list in the product brochure, but an ad agency should be able to find a middle ground.

    As I’ve mentioned on the subject before I really like that Jaguar ad I’ve linked to in comments here previously, the Mercedes C300 (or whatever that C-series car is), and even this Cadillac CTS commercial starring Kate Walsh, an actress on a popular TV drama here in the States called Grey’s Anatomy. They mention some features the car has but they also hit an emotional chord (in heterosexual males at least) with the actress’s sultry voice-over. Schwing! 😉

    In that CTS commercial they also use a song which will resonate with the affluent demographic Cadillac is now trying to reach-out to. Cadillac is no longer your grandfather’s car. When Jay Spenchian turned Cadillac around he tried to lower the age bracket the cars will appeal to in part by using the music of Led Zeppelin in the commercials. Now, I have nothing against Led Zeppelin, but as a member of Generation X (the target demographic for Saab) the music of the 70s does nothing for me. Maybe they were trying to sell cars to my parents’ Baby Boomer generation instead of marketing to my grandparents’ “Greatest Generation” who are all dying-off. Well, the latest CTS commercial uses music from the band Hum. I really like that song and before this commercial aired had downloaded the single on iTunes. It’s called “Stars”. A really good song. So now it looks like Cadillac is marketing to GenX while Saab seems to be marketing to GenY (my sons’ generation) with the flashy computer video-game-esque jet planes flying around and such, though not a lot of Gen Yers can afford the price Saabs sell for.

    Thanks for the interview with Steve, Steven. I look forward to the next installment.

    Steve, Jan-Willem, John, and of course Leanne who I’m sure are all reading this: hi! 🙂

  2. Great stuff mate- but interrupt the bugger a bit next time!

    Note for all American readers, in the UK and Australia, the word bugger is a socially acceptable pejorative term on a par with idiot and bastard – but of slightly different context. A lot of people in Australia use the terms very freely. There are NO sexual conatations- as there might be in some US States to the use of the word bugger!


  3. lance: I’m no expert, but where I’m from in the States the word “bugger” has no alternate sexual connotation as I understand it does in the U.K.

    I’m reminded of the film The Gods Must Be Crazy, which is set in Africa. I remember one of the English-speaking characters calling the main African bushman a “cute little bugger”.

    As for interrupting Steve Shannon, I think Swade did the right thing. The interviewee was Steve Shannon and it’s a good interviewer’s job to steer the discussion but to let the interviewee do the talking. When the interviewer gets more attention than the subject (hello, Geraldo Rivera!) it diminishes the effect of the info, which is to convey information, not to make the interviewer the focus of attention.

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