Saab Jets, Cars Travel in Tandem

NEW YORK Saab is launching its first image campaign in over a year to support several new and refreshed vehicles and to help anchor the drifting brand to something tangible: the firm’s history as a maker of fighter jets. Saab will use the platform to tout performance, technology and even fuel efficiency, a company representative said.

The effort, via Interpublic Group’s Lowe in New York, backs four new products for model-year 2006, including the 9-3 Sport Combi, a redesigned 9-5 flagship and an Aero (Saab’s performance moniker) version of the 9-3, with a V6 turbocharged engine. It also replaces the tagline, “State of independence,” with “Born from jets.”

Ads make direct reference to aeronautics in television, print, Internet, and grassroots and promotional elements that break Oct. 23. A company spokesperson for the GM division said ads would show Saab jets flying in formation above different Saab cars.

Saab sales, though up 6 percent this year to September, plummeted last month, consequent to GM killing its “Employee Discount for Everyone” campaign. September U.S. unit sales totaled 1,851, a 40 percent drop versus the same month last year and a 20.5 percent decline versus August.

Campaign spending is undisclosed. Saab spent close to $90 million on advertising in 2004 and more than $65 million from January through August of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.