IPG Has a Saab Story: Lowe, McCann to Fight for Biz Globally

The long tentacles of IPG are beginning to close in around Saab on a worldwide basis.
The recent Saab assignment to Lowe Brindfors in Sweden might seem like a distant event, but it signals a plan to allow agencies of the Interpublic Group of Cos. to get into the finals of any Saab review around the globe. Saab is owned through a joint venture of Saab-Scania AB and General Motors, and IPG’s Lowe Group, McCann-Erickson and Lintas handle GM globally.
Though McCann won Saab business in some minor markets last year – Spain, Brazil and Switzerland – Sweden is one of Saab’s top five worldwide markets in addition to being its home base.
Angotti, Thomas, Hedge/N.Y. handles Saab in the U.S. market, its largest. Saab, despite being saddled with aging products in the 900 and 9000 models, has held its own during the last three years in the U.S., with sales of around 26,000 units a year.
Given that relative success, Saab director of marketing Dan Chasins downplayed any chance of the U.S. business being taken away from ATH. ‘Our strategy is working, our sales so far this year look very good, and there would be no reason for us to consider changing,’ said Chasins.
The direction of the ads is set through an international ad council made up of representatives of Saab and agencies in its top five markets, which will now include Lowe.
One factor that could hurt the Angotti Thomas Hedge relationship is Saab’s limited advertising funds here and abroad. Interpublic and its shops could potentially offer Saab a tidy global compensation package that would cost the automaker less than having numerous independent shops.
Lowe & Partners is believed to be interested in making its case to Saab’s U.S. management. But the agency was involved in the Oldsmobile pitch for five months.
The need to maximize advertising efficiency, said Chasins, spurred the company last fall to launch a global ad strategy in which certain elements of Saab’s advertising, such as typeface, logos and product images were standardized in each market around the globe.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)

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