Saab Taps Carlson for Promos

DETROIT-Saab Cars USA completes its shift away from national TV advertising toward relationship marketing with the hiring of Carlson Marketing’s Troy, Mich., office to handle the majority of its promotional and events marketing through 2000.
Carlson will coordinate this week’s New York City premier of the IMAX feature Extreme. The Norcross, Ga.-based car maker is the presenting sponsor of the film, which features athletes in remote locales skiing, climbing, surfing and windsurfing.
The long-term contract with Minneapolis-based Carlson is the first for Saab USA with a promotional agency and signals the company understands it needs to use nontraditional means to reach nontraditional customers, said Elke Martin, Saab promotions director.
Carlson will work with The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., Saab’s ad agency, to bring promotions more in line with ad work, said Melody Bryant, Carlson event marketing manager in the automotive division. Martin has done some of promotion coordination, but Carlson will make it a full-time focus.
“For the year 2000 our No. 1 objective is to bring advertising and promotional plans into sync with advertising,” said Mike Ebert, Carlson account executive for Saab.
Martin crafted Saab’s global “vs.” campaign, comparing Saab cars to examples of conventional wisdom in stark visuals. That work is running on spot cable and in print.
The move to heavier promotions is based on research into who buys Saabs, Bryant said.
“Saab cars are very niche and quirky,” she said. “Their customer base is intelligent and active and isn’t likely to be sitting on the couch watching television or reading a magazine.”
Carlson will help Saab coordinate its commitments for 1999 and work to develop a more cohesive plan for 2000.
Saab awarded Carlson the job on April 30 during a presentation. The company used a “Saab vs. boundaries” theme for its presentation to tie it into the brand advertising.