Turbo Charged Campaign Delivers Ultimate Saab Story

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Some consumers are so tough to market to that they'll throw out a piece of individually addressed First-Class mail without thinking once about opening it, no matter how personal or important it's made to appear. But when the outer envelope measures more than a foot in length, feels like an owner's manual in the palm of your hand and arrives branded with an obsequious outer envelope headline that promises to question mediocrity itself, you might hesitate just a little before aiming it for the trash bin.

That's certainly the case at Saab Cars USA Inc., Norcross, GA, which has dropped 500,000 6-ounce direct mail packages into five major markets, inviting prospects to participate in the poetry of "Saab vs. Tom, Dick and Harriet." And with an unconventionally shaped letter, oversized business reply card, 28-point specs sheet and a 15-page four-color brochure, you can bet the company did its research before approving the production budget.

"This is the kind of campaign that can take anywhere from four to six months," said Sally Witzky, account supervisor for Saab at The Martin Agency, Richmond, VA.

The package comes personally addressed based on sophisticated database analysis and list purchases indicating a prospect's potential interest in the Saab 9-5 Sedan, which retails for more than $30,000. Marketing copy draws attention to its latest active head-restraint system, ventilated leather seats, and manufacturing science that includes more than 40 crash tests.

The Martin Agency, a fully integrated marketing services shop whose clients include Geico Insurance, Karsten Manufacturing and Advance Auto Parts, has handled the Saab account for two years. The increased competition for luxury cars has led to the higher-end auto manufacturers making more of an investment in direct marketing campaigns to move product, Witzky said. However, the "Saab vs." campaign actually grew out of a direct mail piece that was originally made for its global market. Two writers worked on the copy, but some of the background imagery was obtained from stock-photography agencies. Witzky wouldn't discuss the exact costs for the campaign but hinted that the press run was high enough to keep the per-piece cost under $6 a package. Saab officials will continue mailing packages over the next several weeks based on demographic research and perhaps a little looking over their shoulders.

"Actually, some of our Saab drivers are very much like Mercedes," she said, "but we also appeal to people who are driving Camrys. Cadillac is a fairly aggressive marketer as well."

Saab backs up its direct mail with outbound telemarketing and opt-in e-mail marketing to 400,000 households, Witzky said, and is buttressing the campaign with national television advertising, an Adirondack travel sweepstakes, and a special Web site dedicated exclusively to the Saab owner wannabe at SaabUSA.com/us/desire. The Martin Agency also worked in conjunction with Saab's interactive agency, Large Medium, Stockholm, Sweden, to construct a Web site exclusively for the acquisition effort.

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