Saab also will increase its ad budget next year to about $55 million.
The bulk of the 300,000 units in the first mailing will go to owners of competitive vehicles, including Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus and Volvo, said Joel Manby, president-CEO of Saab. Up to 100,000 units will go to current Saab owners.
MORE TARGETED THAN PAST
Saab's past direct marketing programs weren't as targeted and lacked tracking and follow-up, said Chuck Mayer, manager of promotional marketing at Saab.
This program is based on owners with specific competitive car models and, also, on the timing of car-lease expirations.
The refinements come from the database resources of General Motors Corp., which owns half of Saab parent Saab Automobile AB.
The program, via Martin Direct, Richmond, Va., will have three more mailings through next May and includes a test-drive incentive.
The second piece will go to the same list as the first, plus additional names from Saab dealers and leads from its Web site (www.
saabusa.com). Interested recipients from the first two pieces will get the last two.
"A key part of this is it's interactive. We'll seek out information and see what people's interests are and supply them with customized responses," he said.
Saab owners who wanted a step-up vehicle usually left for other European makes because of Saab's limited lineup, Mr. Mayer continued. The 9-5 should keep them in the Saab family.
The 9-5, already on sale in Europe, has had a warm reception and is on back order, he said.
Mr. Manby said Saab is expected to sell about 109,000 cars worldwide this year. He predicted it will sell 132,000 globally next year.
"The 9-5 is driving that," he added.
Part of Saab's ad mission starting next April will be to get the word out that all its cars will be turbo, Mr. Manby said.
"As a niche brand, Saab needs something to hang our hat on, and one thing we'll