SAAB WILL DEVOTE MORE DOLLARS TO REGIONAL ADS

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Saab Cars USA, currently reviewing its $50 million account, plans to spend more heavily on regional advertising to reach specific markets where it has a strong dealer presence.

In these test markets, Saab also will try out tactics borrowed from General Motors Corp.'s Saturn unit, including no-haggle pricing and more dealer training.

Saab USA President Joel Manby, a former Saturn executive, told Advertising Age the effort will probably start later this year.

With an ambitious goal of boosting U.S. sales by more than 40% by 2000 to 40,000 vehicles, Saab will spend more in markets where it has existing owner and dealer bases or where demographics match its target.

Mr. Manby declined to discuss spending, but said, "We'll soak a market with advertising above competitive levels to see if the increase in frequency gets [Saab] more reach."

REGIONS, SHOP UNDECIDED

The Swedish automaker hasn't determined where it will test the strategy, said Elke Martin, public relations director. Also undecided: what shop will handle the program, which may get dedicated regional ads, more national ads or both.

As far as its review, Saab may split its account, awarding one advertising agency the launch of the new 9-5 sedan next year, which Saab hopes will attract older, wealthier buyers.

Saab sales rose 31% to 28,439 for 1996, since New York agency Angotti, Thomas,

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