Brann Baltimore Drives Away With Saab

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Saab Cars USA Inc., the importer and distributor of the Saab 9-3 and 9-5 models, selected Brann Worldwide's Baltimore office as its direct marketing agency of record on a $10 million to $15 million billings account.

The agency was one of seven national shops pitching for the DM end of the Saab advertising business. The Martin Agency, Richmond, VA, was the incumbent.

"We crashed the gates -- we read about the pitch in Adweek [magazine]," said Paul Walczyk, executive vice president and general manager of Brann Baltimore.

"We informed Saab of Brann Worldwide's sector experience and said 'maybe we're interested,'" he said. "They said, 'OK, send us something,' and the next thing they received was a credential piece targeted to the automotive industry. By the end of the week, we received the [request for proposal]."

Brann Baltimore itself has not had an automotive account. But many agency executives there have direct marketing experience in that sector. For Saab, the agency will handle creative, media, strategic planning and data services. It will use direct mail and e-mail to launch Saab's 9-3 Arc and Vector Sport sedans.

"The mandate is to help them primarily through acquisition and retention marketing to sell more cars," Walczyk said.

Saab strengthens Brann Baltimore's client list. The roster includes the Bermuda Department of Tourism and Bank One's credit card service and retail banking operations in Wilmington, DE, and Columbus, OH. It also does project work for and Outback Steakhouse Inc.

Brann Baltimore's billings are not disclosed. The agency's parent is part of Arnold Worldwide Partners, itself a piece of French-owned agency conglomerate Havas Advertising.

New direct marketing for Saab starts in the first quarter. Lowe & Partners, New York, continues to handle brand advertising for Saab. Based in Norcross, GA, Saab Cars USA is wholly owned by General Motors Corp.'s Saab Automobile AB. The Swedish cars sell in more than 50 markets worldwide.

Saab's market is distinct, hence the challenge to Brann Baltimore for direct marketing aimed at "launching new vehicles and acquiring a very niche customer for a niche automotive product," Walczyk said. "It's not for everybody."

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