SECURING AN INDEPENDENT FUTURE for Saab

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SECURING AN INDEPENDENT FUTURE

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Industry Cars, Business equipment & services, Corporate Image
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Crisis and Issue Management
Advertiser: SAAB AUTOMOBILE
Product/Service: COMPANY IMAGE
Communications Director: Eric Geers (Saab Automobile)
Global Media Manager: Joe Oliver (Saab Automobile)
Communications Manager: Gunilla Gustavs (Saab Automobile)
Internal Communications Manager: Annakarin Rosengren (Saab Automobile)
Media placement: Engaging Online Community - Various Online Outlets - March 2009
Media placement: Internal Briefings - Employees - Globally - March 2009
Media placement: Management Briefing Cards - Employees - Globally - March 2009
Media placement: Media Relations - Global Media - March 2009
Media placement: Saab At Geneva Motor Show - Show Attendance - March 2009
Media placement: 9-5 Testing Spyshots Released - Global Media Outlets - March 2009
Media placement: Official 9-5 Reveal - Frankfurt Motor Show - September 2009
Media placement: 9-5 World Tour - Worldwide Locations - October 2009
Media placement: Save Saab Convoys - Worldwide Locations - January 2010
Media placement: Deal Signed With Spyker - Various Global Media - February 2010

Summary of the Campaign
When Saab Automobile’s parent company General Motors announced a 'strategic review of Saab’s operations' in December 2008, the company began a journey that would see 14 months of uncertainty; during which Saab faced collapsed deals, intense media pressure, the prospect of redundancies and potential closure. In order to keep Saab alive in the hearts and minds of its customers, employees and stakeholders, our communications team main objective was to sustain confidence and stamp out rumour whilst promoting Saab’s profit potential to interested investors. Working with a minimal budget, we prepared a targeted campaign that would provide accurate, regularly updated information and images to Saab’s global audience. This campaign focused on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, official blogs and key enthusiast websites, whilst also actively working to enhance relationships with respected and influential media and industry leaders. By keeping communication honest, frequent, organised and focused, and making close allies of Saab’s online and media supporters, we were effective in our aim to maintain the belief that a solution would be found for Saab’s future, even during periods of turbulence. Saab was successfully sold to Dutch supercar manufacturer Spyker in February 2010.

The Goal
Following GM’s announcement, our communications team’s priorities were to: • Engage openly and honestly with all global stakeholders including employees, suppliers, unions, importers, dealers, customers, media, Swedish government, European Commission. • Maintain confidence that Saab would find a new owner. • Keep Saab in the political and public spotlight. • Keep Saab’s global organisation motivated. • Defend Saab against rumour and misreporting. With a minimal budget, Saab investigated low-cost methods of reaching their audience and focused research on online opportunities. www.saabsunited.com (an independent enthusiast site that attracts over 166,000 unique visitors each month) was identified as a key influencer.

Results
- Saab secured independence on 23/02/10 - 6 million visits to Saab.com in 2009 - Over 200,000 visits to Saab.com on reorganisation day. - 469,130 visits to Saab Newsroom from 170 countries since launch in May 2009. - 24,098 fans on Saab Facebook page 1297 Twitter followers 435,327 views of Saab videos on YouTube channel. - 5000 Saab drivers involved in convoys across 42 countries. When the deal was signed, 49 global media outlets downloaded 122 assets (VNRs) Saab owners and fans united and committed to Saab’s success. Global media relationships enhanced. Due to minimal budget, media monitoring consisted of BlogPulse, RSS, Google alerts and notification from employees and supporters online. By being organised, honest and clearly communicating Saab’s values throughout the process, our communications team built a belief that Saab can have a bright future. With a new owner, engaged stakeholders, and three forthcoming product launches, the objective is complete.

Execution
• Increased online presence using Saab Newsroom, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter feeds. • Prototype cars sent on world tour. • ‘Spy’ images released. • Engaged Saab’s online supporters, concentrating on www.saabsunited.com. Behind the scenes access, exclusive images and strategic briefings ensured consistent coverage on saabsunited, capturing global hearts and minds, challenging the media agenda and organising demonstrations. • Internal newsletters and Intranet refreshed regularly. • Face-to-face Q&A sessions with JAJ ensured employees received the same information together. • Management briefing cards produced containing leadership tips. • Employee address by Spyker within hours of final agreement. • Online announcements distributed quickly, followed by traditional press conferences and web broadcasts. • Evolving key messages included bringing Saab home, innovation, global support, 3 new cars ready and Saab’s profit potential. • Focus on relationships with objective global newswires, outlets, analysts and reporters. • On and off the record briefings shaped stories globally.

The Situation
In 1947 Saab Automobile, a former Swedish military aircraft manufacturer launched its first prototype car. After 43 years of vehicle production, Saab was purchased by General Motors (GM). In December 2008, GM announced a “strategic review of Saab’s operations”, shattering stakeholder confidence. To survive, Saab faced numerous challenges: • Maintaining confidence during re-organisation, collapsing deals, redundancies, liquidation, production cuts and media pressure. • Operating with minimal communications budget. • Communicating global messages. • Working alongside GM, with conflicting goals. • Managing legalities of disclosing sensitive information.

The Strategy
Saab identified that work was needed, externally and internally, to secure a support network that would encourage positive conversations about Saab’s future rather than an acceptance of its demise. All significant announcements were to come from Saab Managing Director, Jan-Åke Jonsson (JAJ) and, to maintain momentum, all sign-off and approval processes would be streamlined. Global messages were to be communicated online and stakeholders engaged through social media, while employees would be encouraged to become active spokespeople. Industry experts were to be identified and briefed to be authoritative Saab spokespeople, and prototype cars unveiled to underline that Saab has an exciting future. All Saab supporters and enthusiasts were to be actively encouraged to defend the brand in opinion-forming media while endeavouring to keep Saab in the media spotlight.