Question: should Saab get Victor Muller in their advertising?

Putting company executives in corporate advertising is always a tricky business.
Low-budget small businesses do it all the time because they can’t afford actors, scripts, film crews (shooting speeding cars in deserts), etc. Bigger businesses don’t do it so often because they can afford those things, but it has worked for some companies. I can still recall the Remington shaver guy who liked his shaver so much he bought the company. And Aussies will all be familiar with Gerry Harvey, who fronts the ads for Harvey Norman, a very successful homewares and electrical retailer here in Australia.
You rarely, if ever, see company executives in automotive advertising. It’s more about scenery, vehicle demonstration and generating an emotional response. But there have been some car company ads with executives that have been both necessary and effective.
Lee Iaccoca’s ads for Chrysler back in the 1980s come to mind (and they were so effective that even I’m familiar with them, despite being a teenager at the time and in a different country). Here’s a sample. Don’t make the convenient mistake of thinking these ads were crappy because Chrysler’s almost dead in the water now. Back then, Iacocca’s input helped save a company that was on the brink and it brought them back to a place of relative success.
So what of Saab and Victor Muller?
The reason I’m asking this question today is because I believe Saab have a core message to get out to some of its biggest markets right now. That message is “we’re still alive”.
Anybody who sees Victor on video gets an instant snapshot of a guy who’s passionate, intelligent and has an aura of confidence about him. (And by the way, don’t bother commenting on this post if you haven’t watched the Autoline video yet).
The big question is whether or not he could project that message of survival, new product and confidence in a 30-second ad. Maybe a series of them.
Something like this could be especially important in the US market. There seems to be a lack of real knowledge about Saab’s situation amongst the motoring press – again, watch the Autoline interview and see the looks of surprise amongst the panellists as VM spells out various truths of the Saab situation. If there’s such a lack of knowledge amongst the people who are paid to know things about this industry, imagine the lack of knowledge out there amongst the customers.
Making a few VM videos doesn’t have to be overly expensive and thanks to the reach of the internet, you don’t even have to pay big money for expensive TV time anymore. All you need is a good story to tell (check) and the right person and setting to tell it (check, check).
Personally, I think it’d be a great campaign and a good way to get Saab back in people’s minds. VM and Jan-Ake Jonsson have done a great job convincing people of Saab’s survival wherever they’ve been in the last few months. Dealers all around the world have come out of meetings feeling very confident and fired up. Members of the press who meet them are as one in relaying the confidence these men and the Saab story inspires.
Perhaps it’s time to take that story to the streets?

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