Smart Marketing: Small Moves Add Up Big

I’ve been meaning to post this one for a while, but life has kept me pretty busy and I wanted to devote the necessary time to give this article the respect it deserves. A few weeks ago on twitter I noticed some pictures of a sleek new 9-5 Aero with some huge custom painted wheels.

Sure it’s a sweet ride, but the tweet that accompanied it is what really caught my attention.

Read moreSmart Marketing: Small Moves Add Up Big

Saab to kick off independence anniversary with US ad blitz

The deal was closed in February 2010, but the initial deal to sell Saab to Spyker Cars was actually agreed on January 26th.

I’ve heard earlier today that it will be on this date in 2011 that Saab kick off a big advertising blitz in the United States, including:

  • Four straight days of significant ads in the Wall Street Journal
  • Ads on cable channels – Discovery, Food Network, NatGeo, History, Travel etc
  • Billboards in major US cities (kudos to all who talked about billboards a few months ago)

It’ll be interesting to see the content of the print and TV ads as they come online.

The good news is that this campaign is apparently scheduled to run until April. That’s a long time to tell a story. I trust they’re going to tell the right one.

I believe the update to the SaabUSA website is due to come online very soon, too, so it’s going to be very helpful to have these points of customer contact properly sorted.

Things are moving, people.

Sunday Saab Snippets

If you’re in reasonable proximity to Connecticut (I previously wrote NJ – my mistake) and want to restore a 1993 Saab 900, Steve’s your man. The price is right if you can give it a good home, too.


If you’re a Swedish company looking to re-establish yourself in Canada, now might be a good time to lay low…..

“We’re going to take out [our anger] on a Swedish company,” yelled one fan, waving an Ikea bag. “Volvo and Saab are next.”

One Toronto mother promised her children they would no longer eat the Swedish Meatballs at Ikea.

Ah, the passion of sports!

Sweden beat Canada in a 6-5 shootout at the World Junior Hockey Championships and given that hockey is more popular than oxygen in Canada, beating the national juniors may not be the best way to make friends there. I’m sure the big-hearted Canadians will get over it, though.

Maybe Saab Canada could have a “We’re Sorry Sale” to kickstart 2011 ๐Ÿ™‚


If you’ve got a Saab 9-3 or 9-5 equipped with Haldex XWD then you might want to get in touch with them and get a badge for your car.

As you might already know, Haldex’s traction systems arm has been sold to BorgWarner, so the company is looking to give away their last remaining badges. Click here to get one (have a photo of your car at the ready).

Haldex Performance Badge


Victor Muller is #47 on Motor Trend’s “Power List for 2011”

Very under-rated.

Thanks Lee!


Murilee Martin left Jalopnik a few months ago but has taken his work over to TTAC. Those who follow Jalopnik would know that Murilee had two major themes – Old cars from Alameda and the 24 Hours of LeMons series.

I don’t follow TTAC so I don’t know if the Alameda series is running there, but LeMons crossed my radar because a LeMons race was held in Florida on New Years Eve and the coveted Index of Effluence trophy was won by a Saab 96!

Whilst there’s always a car that crosses the line in first place, the IoE trophy is highly regarded as it’s awarded to the team that does the most in a car that’s significantly challenged or has the most character.


Ford is doing an engine tear-down at the Detroit Auto Show that will be similar in stature to Saab’s driving efforts at Talladega back in the mid-80s and 90s.

They’ve driven an Ecoboost F150 through a series of challenging events and tasks in the last year, amassing around 160,000 miles under extremely challenging circumstances (e.g. running at full throttle for 24 hours towing 11,300 lbs).

They aim to tear the engine down at the 2011 NAIAS to show how durable the engines are even after an equivalent 10-years of use in one 12 month period.

Great marketing. If only Saab could do a Talladega-style event again.

Thanks Ted!

Friday Snippets – VM-OK and Fifth Gear edition

I received an email from Victor Muller a few minutes ago and he reports that all is well and good. The gall bladder was ditched on Monday. He’s back on his feet now and will be at Pebble Beach tomorrow for the Saab presser being held there.

Good news!


Fifth Gear have apparently filmed a road test of the new Saab 9-5, with Vicki at the wheel.

Sadly, it seems to be restricted based on your location and as I’m not one who fiddles with such things, I’m currently unable to view it.

Click here and try your luck. If you can see it, perhaps you can pass on their thoughts.


One of the prime reasons I resolved to work so hard on covering the Saab sale and making sure it stayed in the news was because I felt that Saab deserved that chance – a chance to influence their own fate. I was very strong in my opinion that a decision to close Saab should not be made by a bunch of executives in another country, several of whom had probably never even visited Trollhattan.

Ed Whitacre, the man who had the final say, announced today that he will resign from GM, effective 1 September. He’ll have spent just over one year on the job there. Structurally speaking, he had every right, even an obligation, to decide Saab’s fate. Ethically, morally? Not so much.

I’m just glad the right decision was made in the end. Enjoy your latest retirement, Ed.


Our man in the UK, Robin M, seems to be enjoying this whole drive-to-IntSaab-in-a-new-9-5 thing.

Brand new car, Euro lodgings and good mates everywhere. It’s nice to be him, ain’t it ๐Ÿ™‚


And finally…….

A Saab billboard from Germany!!

This one was spotted by Alexandros, in Munich. His translation of the main text is “What was to be proven.” and the ad then ties in with Saab’s new Anything But Ordinary campaign.

Car companies and Youtube effectiveness

Social Car News had a good article today, where they took a look over the various Youtube channels of some European car manufacturers.

They took a broader look at each one than what I have here, but I thought it would be good to drill down into some of the numbers and see if they tell us anything about each company, the way it’s using Youtube to engage customers and the relative success of each company in doing so.

Here are the numbers. You can sort the table by clicking on the arrows at each header. The default sorting is alphabetical by company name.

[table id=1 /]


Why “Saab” and “Saab II”?

16 of the 54 videos on Saab’s Youtube channel relate to footage of the dinner held on the Saturday night of the Saab Festival. I know from doing videos like this myself that they are valued by the people that watch them, but that those numbers are small.

In fact, the dinner videos have an average of just 347 views each, so the inclusion of these videos is definitely of statistical significance. Their inclusion has a significant influence on both the total number of videos uploaded as well as the average number of views per video.

Given that these videos are quite recent, its doubtful their addition to Saab’s Youtube channel would have added to the number of subscribers to the channel, so I’ve left this figure the same.


I thought I’d just run some simple numbers, which are shown in the last two columns.

The first of these is VpVideo, or Views per Video. It’s an average number of views per video for each manufacturer. I guess you could say that this can be used as a guide to how much interest there has been in the channel.

Saab does pretty well in this regard, rated fifth and following on from some pretty popular companies.

The number of average views per video can be influenced by a several factors not limited to the size of the company. These include how often the videos are embedded into websites, blogs, forums, etc. When you consider the amount of coverage the big German companies get in all the fanzines, etc, Saab really are doing pretty well.

The second number is SpVideo, or Subscribers per Video. My take on this is that it shows the ‘stickiness’ of the Youtube channel. It’s an indicator of how many people view a video and then decide that they want to see more from that company. This can be governed not only by the level of interest, but also by the nature of the videos produced and uploaded by the company.

From this figure, you can see that everyone wants a Porsche and no-one cares a whiff about Smart companies with what’s perceived as an attractive product, as well as engaging video, seem to do pretty well here.

Sometimes it’s the sheer attractiveness of the product, which can be an enduring thing over a long period of time (Aston Martin, Porsche) and sometimes it’s the constancy and variation of updates as well as exciting product videos (BMW and Audi).

Whatever the magic cocktail is, Saab are lagging behind a little in the number of subscribers per video, which would suggest that whilst there’s been a good level of interest in the videos they publish online, they’re not cementing that connection by getting people to subscribe and watch more of them.

Perhaps it’s the nature of the videos? Many of the videos on Saab’s channel are more about information and less to do with racy product shots. That’s the nature of Saab’s situation over the last 18 months, of course, and is not a criticism. But it could be a pointer as to what might work better in the future.

The internet is becoming a bigger part of people’s automotive research regimen with every week that passes by so whilst online video is just another piece of the puzzle, it’s still one that should be optimised.


US readers – your input on developing Saab’s market, please

Ever wanted to get in the ear of management? Here’s your opportunity.
I’ve received the following queries from a dealer in the US who’s working with a group to plan how Saab are going to get back on the map with the average consumer (read: Saab customer) in that market.
They’re interested in who you are, maybe your history with the brand and what they need to do to get someone like you back in the showroom.

  • What are your thoughts about Saab right now?
  • How can US Saab dealers get you in to start buying cars again?
  • Who should be Saab’s spokesperson be (if any) as they begin to grow the company again?
  • What do you think would be helpful in getting Saab back on the map?

Many of you will represent the typical customer so your thoughts could be quite handy as they map out the future of the company.
I’d ask you to keep your answers and ideas well thought out and achievable. We’re dealing with budgets and other resource constraints here. Things have to be on target. Exotic fingersnap solutions that look good on the printed screen but aren’t particularly executable won’t float too many boats, I’m afraid.
Put your thinking caps on and fire away…….

My three-step marketing plan for Saab.

This is going to make me look like a bit of a simpleton. I’m not a marketing graduate and I don’t know all the fancy terminology. But on the flipside, I have been writing this website for five years now, I’ve done a number of Saab events and I’ve seen what people respond to. I guess you call it my seat-of-the-pants marketing plan.
Or a component of it. I’m not positioning this as everything that Saab should do. Just something.
Unwritten in this plan is the omnipresent and supreme marketing element that sometimes gets overlooked in this type of dicussion – build truly great products. The best advertising you can do is to put a brilliant product in the hands of your consumer. If you do that, they’ll do quite a bit of advertising for you (whether they realise it or not).
As economists are given to do, I’ve assumed that this is in place already.
So, my simple three-step marketing plan for Saab:

  1. Do stuff.
  2. Involve real peolple in the stuff you do.
  3. Tell everyone about it.

Amazingly simple, isn’t it?
Let’s dig a little bit deeper on those, then.

Read moreMy three-step marketing plan for Saab.

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