Saab Story

Saab As I was working out this morning and listening to my favorite classic rock radio station, I heard what initially seemed to be a clever spot from Saab.

The voiceover narration began by lamenting the "sameness of our modern lives." The TV shows all seem to have the same basic plots, said the disembodied voice. Same thing goes for major motion pictures, which all seem to be remakes of 35-year-old sitcoms. Saab punctuated the point by reminding listeners that we all seem to wear pretty much the same style of clothing these days.

But, when the spot ended, I realized that something wasn’t ringing true. And then it hit me. As the narrator bemoaned the sameness of today and contrasted that drabness with the unique qualities of new Saab automobiles, the background music was The Who’s 1969 song entitled, "I’m Free." Bingo. I realized what was wrong with the spot. In an attempt to differentiate their client’s car by talking about its unique safety qualities and stylish curves, the ad guys goofed by using the same advertising approach every other car company has been using of late: leveraging songs from rock and roll dinosaurs such as The Who, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones to connect with baby boomers who still think of themselves as being hip and relevant.

How sad, I thought. Saab had come so close to breaking through the clutter by correctly positioning its car’s very different attributes. Instead, Saab blew it by using the same old rock songs everyone else uses.

So, in the end, Saab marketers ended up embracing the very sameness they criticized in their copy.

One thought on “Saab Story

  1. Repman. Interesting post which I think reflects corporate malaise as much as it does a marketing blunder. I read (over a year ago) in one of the trades that GM was considering dropping the Saab brand in the UK. As did Fiat with the Lancia brand some years ago. And here lies the problem. If they’re not incredibly careful when major worldwide manufacturers like GM and Fiat buy up niche/well loved brands they instantly loose thier cache. A Saab badge on a GM chasis? No thanks. A Lancia badge on Fiat engineering? Same again. It’s a perpetual problem for marketers and I can see why the Saab guys are so confused. Their parent company has not invested properly in Saab cars and so all we’re left with is marketing talk. Now if GM took a closer look at what BMW did with mini then perhaps its marketing department might have more interesting things to say.