Words fail

I’m not normally given to unreserved mocking of an organisation, but this is just too much.

Back in June, I travelled to the Saab Festival in Trollhattan. While I was there, I met up with a guy who had recently started working for Saab in a country that I won’t identify directly. They’ll know who they are, but I can tell you that it’s a very small market.

This guy had been working with another brand and had just started working to promote Saab there. He was very enthusiastic about it, and travelling to Sweden to get more familiar with the cars and the company should give you an idea about just how keen he was.

When he got home, he was disappointed to hear that his boss had appointed another guy as sales manager for Saab. This might have been OK, except our Saab guy learned pretty quickly that this new guy was not going to be kicking goals for the brand. Cars are pretty expensive in this part of the world and this guy’s plan was to pitch Saab way downmarket from where their real potential lay. No Aeros at the premiere, and in a country where convertibles are sought after and money talks – an Aero convertible would have been just the thing to draw the right level of interest.

After pleading his case for a different direction, he ended up resigning his position. He didn’t think they were going to succeed, the new guy was a nutter and he found the position to be untenable. The campaign is just getting underway, and as you’ll see below, it looks like it’s off to a rocky start.

A few days ago, the big boss asked our guy to come in again, for a quiet chat. Things weren’t going so well, and would he mind coming back and leading the Saab position? But there was a catch – it was only until a new sales manager was appointed.

He declined.

He sent me through a picture of the new Saab billboard advertising in his country, which he saw on the street a few days ago. This guy got passed over so that some nitwit could approve this ad.

Money well spent, eh?

Reborn Billboard

To Saab in the country we’re talking about here:

…..you had a guy dead keen to take on the brand and really run it. He was educating himself, learning the history as well as the everything he could about the current range and what’s coming. You couldn’t meet a nicer bloke if you tried. Articulate, well presented and knowledgable. Would have been a credit to the brand and your organisation.

And you let him leave for this?

There must be family connections involved or something, coz there sure ain’t any common sense.


And just in case the Saab people in the country I’m talking about haven’t noticed yet….


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  1. And not only are they 2007 models but USA versions too, now i’m 99% sure they drive on the left the same as Swade and I so the USA version would not be offered.

  2. THE BILLBOARD HAS 2007 MODELS ON IT!!!!!! -swade

    LOL audibly. My wife just asked why I was laughing so hard.

    Was this a 3rd world country? Ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so cruel…

  3. wtf, I guess the boss had a grudge with the guy… recon the business have to shut down in a near future (maybe a post on that )

  4. Oh these *******! To neglect the Cabrio in that market is unforgivable. Clearly, we are in heaven in OZ compared to these losers.

    Just trying to keep a scrap of anonymity there, Jose πŸ˜‰ – SW

  5. Even worse they are 2003 models….you can tell because it has the pop-up headlight washer. For 2004 and up the 9-3 lost the pop headlight washer feature.

  6. Kind of reminds me of the Tampa Saab (different owner now) salesman who told me, while I was on a test drive, that Saab was German.

  7. well done Wulf, missed that one, but it gets better. in the country where the advert comes from, the car is called a saloon and not a sedan. Good job we are all open-minded, πŸ™‚

  8. Laughable. Reminds me of the time when I was an engineer for a company in the industrial power generation market and a 22-year-old female intern decided to ‘correct’ the copy for an advertisment that was running for six months in a trade association publication. The error that she created made the copy read as if one of our multi-million-dollar systems was a household appliance because the names were similar. Our customers laughed and laughed at the ‘big corporation that can’t even get the advertising right’, and it certainly hurt our credibility. Amazingly, nobody got fired or even reprimanded. The reason is a whole other rant, but it had to do with some other things that were even more screwed up at the time.

    These types of mistakes are very important to correct because they are so public.

  9. That reminds me of the time I went to a certain “Saab” dealer in Washington state. They also sold Volvos and Audis I believe. I asked one of the employs to look up an option on a 9-5 Aero and he spelled Saab “sab”. He obviously thought he was right because he couldn’t remember the saab website he needed and typed the same thing in about 4 or 5 times until I corrected him which left him looking rather puzzled….

  10. Edited at the source’s request – SW

    Nice work, sole distributor for Saab.

    If I were that bad at my job, I’d be out of it!

  11. Scuse me, but…

    Buildings crumble!
    The ground opens wide!
    Light beams down from heaven!
    She stands before my eyes!

    She’s actual size, but she seems much bigger to me!
    Squares may look distant in her rear view mirror but they’re actual size as she drives away!


    Anyway…This is pretty damn pathetic. Then again… They filmed a Joe Don Baker movie there once…since that’s the only thing I know them for…that’s pretty pathetic.

  12. To their defence:

    Could it be that the billboard really stands from 2003, when the 9-3 was ‘reborn’ the first time ???

  13. Well, that wouldn’t be the only non-updated website in the world, would it ?

    (A bad excuse, though, of course)

  14. The web site is new, I looked in june and they still had the old 9-3 (900 shape) pictured. at the time they did have their own pages with these old saabs on, now you are re-diredted to saab.com.

  15. Also, the re-born graphic is new to the 2008 model, as featured on the Saab USA site and various other bits of documentation etc.

    And I guess my reference to anonymity (above) sort of washed over a few, eh?

  16. Ok, folks,

    That was just a guess as they used several years old images and the Wagon was missing, too.

    Then its just a mess (of old and new graphics, old (US-spec) products and ignorance).

  17. So, i can assure you that the poster was not there from 2003. there hasn’t been a marketing campaign for saab there for years, and if a bilboard had to stay that clean for over 4 weeks i would be deeply amazed. unfortunately, it’s new, which was what really got to me. i don’t care about the establishment and the owners, i just feel really sorry for the brand. It had such great potential and it’s gonna be ruined. Also, no vector models will be on display for the launch either, just 4 types on linear……….sad.

  18. To Jeff,

    we did much more movies in %@$@# πŸ™‚ we did count of monte christo, gladiator, munich and let’s not forget we did popeye too πŸ™‚

    just thought i’d share it since, yes in a lot of categories we are pathetic, but not always so bad

  19. My wife’s first graphic design gig was for a local auto ads magazine that sold for a dollar at newsstands. It was horrid — local for-sale ads almost always had pictures that didn’t match the description, and even worse, sellers’ submitted pics ended up being reused over and over again for other folks’ ads.

    My wife couldn’t do anything about any of this, she was only allowed to create the layout, which essentially meant stuffing as many inaccurate car ads as possible into each issue. I won’t even talk about the working conditions. She left after two months; it was making her sick.

    One guy on staff was making a living sneaking around car dealerships and taking pics of the inventory, then sticking them in the magazine (with inaccurate descriptions, mind you). The dealership had never asked for this to happen– they were given the first ad as a “free gift,” and if they continued to “accept it” (ie. didn’t refuse it) they were socked with an invoice every month.

    The dealerships were never sent a copy of the magazine, btw. If they asked, it was “lost in the mail” or “the courier messed up”. So of course, the plan worked perfectly. Most dealerships didn’t even know that they WERE paying, since the invoice amounts were pretty small and they looked the same as the other invoices for all the other ad space they were buying anyway. And after all, ad space is ad space.

    These guys have been doing this for 20 years now.

    The lesson learned: Being stupid doesn’t have to keep you from making gobs of money. In fact, it might even help.

  20. Gents, as you can see, I’ve edited comments where they identify the country and organisation concerned. This was at the request of the source for the story, not the company.

    I think the point has been made, anyway. Comments on this one are now closed.