The 2010 Saab 9-5 photo fiasco shows exactly why Saab need their own enthusiast/news site.

It’s 200andfreaking9, for crying out loud. Surely this sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen anymore.
Earlier this evening (my time) the latest edition of Autozeitung hit news stands in Germany. The magazine broke an embargo on Saab 9-5 photos and published them a month before the embargo date. People in Germany (and elsewhere, I guess) can buy the magazine right now and look at real photos of the 2010 Saab 9-5……but I can’t show them here at the moment.
Within hours, I received scans of those images, which I emailed and phoned Saab about and then published here at SaabsUnited. An hour or so later, I received an email from Saab requesting their removal, which I complied with.
A year or so ago, I probably wouldn’t have received such an email and a year or so ago I most likely wouldn’t have complied if it came. But this is an important time in Saab’s history, so they made the request and I honored it.
But none of this should have ever happened.
It happened because the car companies still haven’t learned their lesson – that the internet is the #1 game in town now.
Car magazines still have their place and they’re obviously still commanding the attention of the car companies and their PR departments, but one look at the newspaper industry should tell them that the game has changed. That it hasn’t quite reached critical mass in the carmag industry yet is just a case of that segment lagging behind.
This cluster%#$@ with the Saab 9-5 is just the latest in a long line of episodes where the car company trusts the publisher and the publisher breaks that trust. It usually happens with the internet breaking first. This time it’s a magazine.
What that tells me is that Saab let their images out waaaaaaaay too early and the temptation to go to print and get the scoop was too much for Autozeitung.
What it also tells me is something that I’ve been saying for around three years now – Saab need to control their own destiny with this sort of stuff.
They need to have an online portal that’s a connecting point for the enthusiasts and the press alike. They need to release these photos on that site according to their own timetable and the print industry, declining as it is, can pick them up later. The online magazines can run it straight away and of course, the enthusiasts get it right from the source.
That we’re living in 2009 and no-one’s really done this yet is somewhat amazing to me. I can barely think of a big vehicle launch in the last 4 years that hasn’t been glimpsed first on the web. Why doesn’t one of these companies do it right?
Why can’t Saab be the first to do it right? Do it their way?
And avoid this absolute mess.
I know it’s frustrating for me. It’s probably frustrating for Auto Motor and Sport, who in their quick manner linked to the story here in very quick fashion. It’s frustrating for the people who visit here and for the people who visit there.
Of course, most important of all, it’s got to be terribly frustrating for Saab.
They should connect directly with their customers and take these timing issues into their own hands.

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