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Three European car marketers are working on global campaigns, efforts that would seem to defy industry tradition.

All three -- Jaguar Cars, Volvo AB and Saab AB -- are niche players trying to expand their appeal and adjust their brand images.

Volvo breaks a global campaign for its new luxury S80 sedan next month, its second worldwide effort this year. Jaguar is still working on the global push for its new S-type car, scheduled to break in the second quarter of 1999.


Saab and its key agencies -- Lowe Howard-Spink, London; the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; and Lowe Brindfors, Stockholm -- are now formulating a global branding campaign but no date has been established for its debut.

John Slaven, a former adman and now president of a consultancy bearing his name, said carmakers shouldn't try to use the same ads globally, not only because of language but cultural differences. Mr. Slaven worked on Volvo's pan-European campaign focusing on safety about a decade ago when he was at then-agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves, New York.

The lesson he took from that experience: "You can't do the same interpretation of safety everywhere."

"There are still vast differences in terms of the different markets involved and what drives people to purchase in one market may not in another," said John Bulcroft, president of consultancy Advisory Group.

Volvo and Saab are trying to spiff up their brands, with Volvo seeking to add performance and styling to its longstanding safety image -- to woo younger buyers. Although Saab said its global positioning isn't set yet, it recently started to focus on performance and safety in the U.S. and Europe.


Volvo will launch the S80 sedan first in the U.S. with a $30 million buy starting in mid-October, part of an estimated $96 million worldwide program.

A 15-second teaser spot airs during World Series telecasts. Teaser print ads break in newsweeklies in mid-October.

Abbott Mead Vickers/ BBDO, London, handled strategy and print photography, which will be used worldwide.

"Volvos have always forced other cars to be safer," reads the print ad. "This one will force them to be better."

The TV spot was developed by Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, Volvo's North American agency.

"We wanted to develop the core equities of the brand on a worldwide basis," said Mark LaNeve, VP-marketing, Volvo Cars of North America. Since adding styling and performance to Volvo's longstanding safety image is a global challenge, the marketer decided to handle the matter globally, he explained.

Creative and media spending efficiencies are other benefits. Volvo signed a contract with CNN as worldwide sponsor of "The World Beat." The S80's global positioning is "the world's most exciting, safe choice," which may be used as a tag in Europe and the Far East but not the U.S.

Volvo's first global push was last spring, when it rolled out the C70 coupe and convertible in the U.S. Messner Vetere handled strategy and creative.

Jaguar's two key agencies, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and J. Walter Thompson Co., are putting their heads together for that luxury marque's first global push.

Separate ad concepts from JWT and O&M have been tested with consumers in California, Germany, London, the Middle East, New York, Spain and Tokyo, said Al Saltiel, advertising marketing manager of Jaguar Cars North America.

The top creatives for the brand -- Jasper Shelbourne of JWT's London office, and O&M's Ralph Sotherland -- were meeting in New York last week to take the best of their work to blend into one campaign. Target date for advertising is next year.


The car marketer may buy the rights to music that will click with the brand and its target audience around the world, Mr. Saltiel said. He declined to discuss what music or musical performers are under consideration.

Jim McDowell, VP-marketing of BMW of North America, said global advertising is not in the cards for his brand.

German parent BMW AG sends art of cars to offices around the world for brochures and other materials, but not for advertising.

"It hasn't worked out for advertising," he said, explaining that BMW's cars differ subtly by country, so any ad production savings would be counterbalanced by the cost of touching up car photos.

The brand's main character strength can vary in different markets, so a single global campaign wouldn't work, he said.

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