Sweepstakes Is Final Push for Saab 9-3

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Saab Motor Cars USA began "The Drive of a Lifetime II" online sweepstakes this month as part of its integrated campaign to attract younger car buyers to its new 9-3 Sport Sedan.


Though Saab typically targets drivers ages 35 to 55 with an average household income of $75,000, the effort for Saab's first new model in three years aims at 28- to 45-year-olds with an annual household income of $50,000. The car has a base price of $25,900.


"There are two things we discovered going into this campaign," said Colin Price, Saab's interactive marketing manager. "One is that more than 80 percent of the people in the entry luxury sedan category do their automotive research online. The second is that the younger that group gets, the more likely that percentage is to increase."


The sweepstakes runs through Jan. 31 and gives away one Saab 9-3 with a retail value of about $32,500. It is Saab's second online giveaway for the campaign, which began in May. The first sweepstakes ran June 1 to Aug. 15. For it, Saab e-mailed 87,000 people made up of Saab e-newsletter subscribers and handraisers. Seven winners and a guest were flown to San Francisco to drive the car before it was available anywhere.


Ads for the sweepstakes are running on automotive sites such as Kelley Blue Book and CarPoint.com as well as Forbes.com, Fortune.com and other lifestyle sites. Price said it relies heavily on towers, skyscrapers and rich media ads. Nearly 80 percent of ads will appear on automotive research sites with the rest on lifestyle sites.


Saab sent 35,000 e-mails Oct. 10 to announce the sweepstakes. Those went to respondents to the first sweepstakes in June, handraisers and people who gave an e-mail address in their response to the initial direct mail effort in May.


The e-mail let respondents pick a time and location to take a test drive. Saab forwarded replies to local dealerships, which followed up with consumers. Those who take a test drive receive a $50 Barnes & Noble gift certificate.


Price would not discuss specific numbers but said the Oct. 10 e-mails generated 100 percent more test-drive sign-ups than expected.


Price said Saab tracks all aspects of its online efforts to tell where sales originate.


"We track everything we do so we can see if sales are coming from online advertising or e-mail marketing," he said. "We want to make sure we are successful at what we are doing and that it is effective."


Digitas, Boston, handled the campaign's interactive components.


Other components included a four-part direct mail campaign and the company's largest online media buy. Price said online has been a key part of the effort not only because a high percentage of the target group is online, but also because Saab has more control over placement and targeting of ads.


Direct mail began in May with a mailing of 220,000 pieces. Nearly 80,000 of those went to current owners and the rest to handraisers. A drop of 750,000 also went to prospects around that time.


Those two mailings and the June online sweepstakes drew 45,000 respondents who then received three mailings throughout the summer. The first mailer was a thank-you for responding. The second was a product pre-launch brochure, and the third was a postcard with pricing information.


Finally, Saab sent nearly 980,000 reminders in early October about the launch of the car to everyone who had received early mailers. That mailing contained brochures with details, pricing and images of the car. A small questionnaire, which inquired about the recipients' current car and name of a friend who might be interested, was attached.


That mailing has generated a response of just over 1 percent.


The Martin Agency, Reston, VA, handled creative for the direct mail. This was the last major campaign it will do for Saab. It has worked with Saab since March 1997. In 2003, Saab begins working with Brann Worldwide's Baltimore office.


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