Saab disagrees.

A little advertising fun, eh?
There’s an old Saab promotional video that features some classic statements of conventional wisdom, with a follow-up from Saab.
Like this….
So I thought it might be fun for us to have a crack at a few.
I’d love for Saab to re-do this as a proper ad campaign, actually. I’m sure they could de-bunk a few myths and establish a few facts – 30 seconds at a time – with a campaign like this.
Conventional wisdom states that you have to be the biggest car company in the world to stay out of bankruptcy.
Modern thinking holds that a motor car should be akin to a transportation appliance.
Conventional wisdom suggests that a car that is small on the outside must be small on the inside.
Conventional wisdom suggests that a smaller car cannot do things that a bigger car can do
Recent thinking suggests that as soon as a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, the new family need a 7-seater SUV
Conventional wisdom suggests that you need a trailer to carry a ride-on mower, or a sofa, 25 pumpkins, or 40 cases of tennis balls
Conventional wisdom suggests that a part-time writer on a small island near Antarctica cannot assist in a purchaser from the US in deciding on a car from Scandinavia
That’ll do from me.
Comments are open

Saab Australia product placement opportunity

This weekend saw me ask you about product placements and how they influence your purchase decisions.
This weekend also saw the start of the Holden-vs-Ford V8 Supercar series here in Australia. This is the most followed form of motorsport in the country, attracting large crowds and a good TV audience as well.
So why should consider a product placement in a two-brand V8 racing series?
Because this year, for the first time, they’re running all the race cars on E85. This would be a perfect fit for Saab BioPower, which is sold in both the 9-3 and 9-5 here in Australia. The V8 Supercar people are promoting their use of E85 quite a bit if the weekend’s TV coverage is anything to go by.
How could they get involved?
The safety car for the series this year is a Nissan GT-R, which has neither a V8 or any E85 capability. Every yellow flag there’s a GT-R out there leading the pack and getting plenty of camera time for Nissan.
All things going well, maybe this is something Saab Australia could consider for the 2010 season, when we have a new 2010 Saab 9-5 BioPower to show off?
How about a new Saab 9-5 that’s given this treatment? Now that’d look alright leading them around, eh?
I should also mention that our own Markac is part of the TV crew that covered the Clipsal 500 this weekend – a job well done!!

Question for the weekend: have you ever bought something due to product placement?

I was going to ask “have you ever bought a car – any car – because of product placement?” but I figured that was too much of a reach. So let’s keep it to any product in general.
Companies pay big dollars to have their products featured in movies and TV shows. Whether it’s Audis in I Robot or BMWs in Pierce Brosnan’s early Bond movies, branded phones, shoes, clothing, cigarettes, alcohol, computers – all of these products appear on screens because companies offer them up and often with cash incentives to bump things along.
We have a TV show here in Australia called The Gruen Transfer, which is all about advertising and the strategies used to get people to act in a certain way. The one thing I’ve learned through watching Gruen is that nothing is accidental in advertising. So even if you’re not aware that a program or advertisement is working on you in a certain way, it usually is.
So has product placement or straight-up sponsorship ever convinced you to act?
This question has come up because Saab’s tie-in with the hit TV show Burn Notice has apparently been a runaway success with around 500,000 unique visitors visiting the Covert Ops game’s website. Around 50,000 people actually played the game to a conclusion at an average of 12 minutes each. Those numbers exceeded GM’s expectations by 400% so as you might expect, everyone’s happy.
Well almost everyone.
Saab’s US sales are still in the toilet. In the last few months, this has been due to harsh economic conditions and uncertainty about the brand’s future, but Covert Ops has been around for two seasons now, starting back in 2008 when Burn Notice first started.
I struggle to see any bump in Saab’s figures due to Burn Notice and I’m not the only one. GM’s own product placement guy agrees:

“Can a TV show sell cars? I’m not sure you can do that when you’re talking about $30,000, $40,000 vehicles,” Mr. Bernacchi said.

But maybe that’s not the name of the game.

“But can it generate interest, intrigue and desire behind a vehicle? Absolutely.”

No-one’s buying, but I guess we can take an increased level of interest on some level as a parting gift from GM. This is something that, statistically at least, went right.
Advertising works in subtle ways. I’m trying to think of instances where I’ve been swayed by advertising and I’m even trying really hard to be honest about it. I say that because I’m one of those people who believes that I’m not swayed by imagery and subtlety. I’d like to think I only react to ads based on logic (i.e there’s a product on sale for 20% off – I’m interested in that product, so I’ll look into it) but I know it’s probably not the case.
My most obvious ad-related purchase would have to be the Apple iMac computer I’m tapping away on right now. I was impressed using Richo’s Mac to make an Aero-X movie back in 2006. I was further impressed by the look of the machines and the standard features in the box. But I have to admit that I was definitely open to the brand because of the brilliant Mac vs PC ads that I saw at that time, and since.
As I look around our home, I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of our purchases have been experience-related rather than advertising related. My vehicle purchases have always been very deliberate, but maybe my attitiude to certain brands is more open now compared to 10 years ago thanks to product exposure in the automotive media, on TV and in movies.
So what about you?
What products of any type have you purchased largely based on advertising exposure or product placement?
What do you think works better – product placement and clever ads, or direct engagement with customers?
Comments are open.

Student Saab marketing questions – continued

Back in January I published an email from a student in the US asking for some help in understanding the Saab company message and philosophy and how it’s communicated. Kirsten is leading a project on brand marketing and being a Saab driver, had chosen Saab as her group’s subject.
Many of you were able to help out then in comments and I thought maybe you’d like to help out again with these final questions.
I’ve provided some brief answers, below. Please feel free to add your thoughts in comments.
Why does Saab build cars? Their reason for being.
Saab started off as an aircraft manufacturer in 1937 and expanded to cars in 1947 with the goal to build a simple car for the Swedish people. The Swedes have always been a pretty practical bunch and the Saabs built under full Swedish control reflected this. They were safe, pretty efficient, capable of carrying loads much larger than what they looked like they were capable of, fun to drive and affordable.
They’ve become more sophisticated as time has moved on and under General Motors’ ownership, they’re also a lot more generic. They build cars today because that’s what a car company does. They’re a manufacturing resource that needs to be utilised. They have a philosophy of responsible performance, being driver-centered and they’re still a safety leader (though not recognised as such) but in essence, they’re not positioned anywhere near to the independent foundation they were built on.
There is some hope for a more independent future for Saab. That plan is being written as we speak and a lot will hinge on the plans GM submit to the US government tomorrow. The hope is that Saab will receive some support from the Swedish government to continue as a quasi-independent entity, building vehicles that are more closely aligned with the company’s original philosophies. Should that plan fail, they will probably be liquidated and the remnants sold to the highest bidder as part of a GM bankruptcy proceeding.
Since the very beginning, if you could name Saab’s purpose what has that been?
To build a relatively simple, strong and practical car in the Swedish tradition (well designed, user-oriented, safe, and fun-to-drive comes as a bonus).
How do you feel SAAB will inspire the next generation of SAAB owners? Or how do you feel SAAB will be able to connect to the next generation?
By re-connecting with that philosophy. Saab started building cars by using people who had no history with the car industry. They were good designers and manufacturers of machinery (aircraft) but many of them didn’t even drive! They built a car the way they figured a car should be built.
That car evolved into a great handling, practical and economical car that was safer than other offerings, able to handle a variety of driving tasks in all weather conditions and was different to almost anything else out there. Subsequent cars followed in the same tradition.
Being so different is probably more difficult in these modern times due to safety and efficiency standards that all companies have to meet. I do believe, however, that Saab thinking is still good thinking and that Saab designers and engineers are capable of building cars for the future that can inspire and be just as practical, safe and fun as Saabs of the past.

Saab postcards for GM and the Swedish government

General Motors and the Swedish government are engaged in a giant game of chicken and it’s our favourite little car company that’s at stake.
The Swedes say GM has to pour more money in before they’ll consider matching it. GM say they’ll cut Saab loose if the government doesn’t come to the party.
I wish they’d both take a breath and come up with a solution that gives Saab the best chance it’s ever had at achieving profitability, growth and survival.
So maybe you’d like to write to either of the parties involved and let them know how you feel. Be friendly and polite. Perhaps you should send them a postcard to remind them what’s at stake.
Feel free to download any of the following images and send it along. There are 28 of them all together. Swedes are here. GM should be reachable in your home country via the Saab website there. Maybe you can’t send them a picture, but feel free to download a pic anyway. If you run a website then maybe you can put one up there with a link back to this post.
9-3 conv snow open.jpg

Read moreSaab postcards for GM and the Swedish government

Saab moving away from the Griffin?

Last month we explored whether Saab need a new logo. Why? There’s talk that there may be an agreement by which Saab were able to use the griffin logo only up to the end of 2009.
WooDz has picked up on the fact that the Saab International website has dropped the Griffin logo and moved to a “Move Your Mind” motif instead. Even the favicon has changed from a little griffin to a (somewhat illegible) SAAB in grey.
Here’s the front page of
And when you click through to the international site, it’s more of the same.
I know the Saab 9-3x shows the badge on the front, but this sort of subtle change in marketing presentation is no accident. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the Griffin, but it looks like it might be going the way of the dodo.

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