Old Saab is new again; new television commercials’ in-joke is on model 900’s seemingly unchanged design

The Saab 900 has been something of a joke among auto enthusiasts because, while the quirky design appeals to many, it has gone essentially unchanged for 15 years–an eternity in the car business. Ads for the all-new 900, breaking this week, show that the company and its agency–Riney, Angotti, Hedge–get the joke.
Two television spots poke fun at the cars age and the length of time it went unchanged. One black-and-white commercial features auto show attendees gawking at what was then a new 900 at the 1978 Paris auto show. It then demonstrates the loyal following the car has garnered since then. Another monochrome commercial, which is a prelaunch spot and debuts Nov. 15, shows the old 900 being crunched as if it were a sheet of paper. The paper then unfolds to reveal the new 900 in color.
As for not showing the new 900 in one of the two spots, RAH creative director Dion Hughes said, “We think the teaser ad is sort of a love letter to the old 900, as we tell them that the new one is almost here.”
Even in the second commercial the old 900 is seen in half of the ad, while the new 900 is shown stationary. “There are too many cars ripping down country roads on TV today. We think the crushing of the old car and the reveal of the new one is more visually striking than some of the more typical shots we could have used,” Hughes said.
The launch ad includes the 900’s surprisingly low price, which starts at $20,900. As with ads from the last year, there is no tagline, as Saab is creating a global image and look to its ads all over the world.
Saab will spend some $40 million in media in the 1994 calendar year.
Despite a lack of new product, Saab had held its ground at around 20,000 sales per annum until this year. Through September, sales were off 30%, but that is due to an end to costly lease deals which crushed the car company’s profits last year.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)

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