Automaker Pushes Branding Effort, New Vehicle Launches

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DETROIT ( -- Saab Cars USA breaks its first U.S.-dedicated brand campaign in two years today on national broadcast and cable TV.

The General Motors Corp.-owned automaker said it is increasing its U.S. ad spending by 20% this year to some $100 million that will back not only the brand campaign but upcoming product launches.

Opening ad blitz
The first flight of the two-month brand blitz, created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe, New York, will included print and spot radio in addition to the TV run. The campaign also introduces a new tagline, "Welcome to the state of independence." It's the first new tagline since the automaker's global "Saab Versus" campaign that ended in spring 2001.

Hans Krondahl, vice president marketing at the brand, said the new tagline isn't meant to imply any patriotic messages but convey Saab's and its customers' unconventionality. He said the ads explain "what Saab stands for ... independent-minded people who like to find independent solutions." The theme also addresses Saab owners, "people who don't want a car everyone else has." Prior ads focused on the fun-to-drive aspect of Saabs.

New models expected
"We feel like we have a brand idea for Saab that truly comes out of what the brand is," said Claire Capeci, account director on Saab at Lowe. She said the time is right for this campaign because Saab has a lot of positive momentum behind it and new models are on the way.

Saab introduces a new 9-3 convertible this fall, the all-new 9-2 hatchback next year and it eventually plans to launch a sport utility vehicle.

Sales up
Despite spotty sales among some auto brands, Saab has enjoyed a good year so far. The carmaker said it sold 15,852 cars in the first four months of 2003, a 26% jump from the same period a year ago. Saab posted its best-ever U.S. sales' month in April, with 4,967 cars, beating its last monthly record set in April 1986.

Mr. Krondahl said Saab is aiming for U.S. sales of 40,000 plus this year vs. 37,800 in 2002.

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