Video: 2010 Saab 9-5 And The Resurrection Of Swedish Hip

August 30, 2010

A near-death experience can really do a number on a person, or a company, whatever the case may be. When people are involved, we know it tends to refocus you a bit, make you think of what is important in life and what you may have missed out on while you're busy surfing the Internet for inexpensive garden gnomes, or that last copy of Dr. Who that only some British geek wanted. It serves as a wake call that you only get one go around, one shot, one take on this earthly stage. Unless you are a car company, then you get do-overs galore.

It is no less the same case for Sweden’s Saab. They have experienced something close to eternal damnation in car company hell more than once. After being acquired by pre-bankruptcy General motors, they got dragged down to the grave only to be saved by benevolent Spyker, and a whole lot of European tax payer money.

What has this resurrection led to? Well, in the case of the latest Saab ad, the 2010 Saab 9-5, it has brought back a rickety, shriveled husk of a company that has long made great car ads to a company that creatively speaking is making a comeback, both cars and car ads. Being scared to corporate death has made Saab young again, think like the old Saab a bit and become Swedish hip.

When you think of Swedish hip, you might think of meatballs covered in Aquavit, or ABBA redone by a punk band, or possibly Ikea furniture that is intuitively put together and comes in pink. But none of those applies here. Saab’s latest 9-5 commercial is indeed hip.

Saab uses very clean, crisp imagery, not unlike Swedish furniture, paired with smiling, happy people in a clean-as-can-be white setting. Everything seems happy again. I think they use lighting to great effect to make you think Saab has been reborn into a clean new world, which in a sense it has been. I would say that the lighting is the central visual effect in the ad and it makes all the other colors stand out and keeps you focused.

Saab took great pains to make sure the imagery is Swedish (the moose), is contemporary (lots of enviro cues like the leaves), and ties its aircraft heritage in a really smart way--the paper airplane tossed across the room. In fact, that might be the best part of the commercial. And to tie it all together, the music, albeit somewhat derivative using that slightly gravelly, Lesley Feist-like voice (it’s not her, I checked) is upbeat, happy and optimistic.

No, the ad doesn’t sing the praises of the new 9-5, it’s meant to show you that Saab is back and making cool cars again. And we can only wait to see what advertising gems they pull out of their hat in the years to come.

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