Saab Pushes Style With Safety for New Parents

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Early results of a direct mail campaign from Saab Cars USA show it is drawing 50 percent more leads than the previous campaign at the same point.


Several hundred people have responded to a toll-free number or mailed in reply cards, which Saab is forwarding to local dealers, said Al Fontova, direct marketing manager at Saab. Others have visited Saab dealers directly, though Fontova didn't have that number.


He said the numbers should grow considerably in the next several weeks.


"Buying a car is a big decision, and people are going to take their time in making a decision," he said. "And we don't usually get responses for about a month after they have received the mailings."


Saab's campaign promotes the Saab 9-5 Wagon and is built around the theme that though becoming parents may have shifted their priorities, they can still drive a hip, albeit safe, automobile.


The mailing, which began in February and ended last month, dropped more than 150,000 pieces to members of Saab's database and prospects. Fontova lacked the breakdown of database members versus prospects but said it was near 50-50. It is the second time in the past year and a half that Saab, Norcross, GA, has run a campaign targeting young parents.


"This represents a new demographic we have been going after for the past two years," Fontova said. "In particular, we are targeting younger parents who are now looking for a car that is more functional and versatile but [who] still want something with style."


Names contacted from the database included people who had not responded to previous campaigns, those who had called a toll-free number requesting information on this model and people who had sent in bingo cards from auto trade shows or car magazines. As for prospects, Fontova said Saab rented lists, including names from subscription lists of parenting-oriented magazines.


Aside from selling cars, Fontova said, the primary goal of the campaign, which cost a little less than $400,000, was to raise awareness that Saab has a wagon.


The mail piece resembles an invitation and comes in a personalized envelope with the headline "Your priorities have shifted. Your obsession with driving hasn't" on the front. Inside are several pamphlets, including a two-page personalized cover letter outlining the safety and benefits of the Saab 9-5 Wagon. At the end of the letter, recipients are told that Saab will make a donation in their and their child's name to support educational programming on their local public television station if they take a test drive before Aug. 31.


"We have found that if you get people to come in and take a test drive," Fontova said, "their propensity to purchase the car increases dramatically."


Another pamphlet, which includes pictures of children, discusses more safety issues and features of the engine. The last pamphlet is a business reply card divided into three sections, each containing the same identification number.


The first is to be brought to the dealer and filled out if the recipient is going to buy or lease a car. It serves as a $1,000 reimbursement. The second part also must be brought to the dealer to get the donation made to the local PBS station for taking a test drive.


The last portion has to be filled out and mailed back in the envelope provided. Saab asks when recipients plan to replace their current cars, what they drive now, which Saab model interests them, their phone number and e-mail address and whether they would give Saab the name of a friend.


Saab worked with Martin Direct, Richmond, VA, on putting together the campaign.


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