Three European carmakers are preparing to defy industry tradition by launching global advertising campaigns.
Jaguar, Volvo and Saab all want to extend their appeal and adjust their brand images on a worldwide basis.
Volvo starts a global campaign for its new S80 luxury sedan in October. Jaguar is working on a worldwide push for its new S-type car, scheduled to break in the second quarter of 1999. Saab and its key agencies are currently formulating a global branding campaign.
The moves have been greeted with some skepticism.
Global brand advertising is not on BMW's agenda, according to Jim McDowell, vice president marketing of BMW North America.
BMW AG sends artwork from Germany to offices around the world for brochures and other materials, but not for advertising.
'It hasn't worked out for advertising,' McDowell said. He explained that BMWs differ subtly by country, so any advertisement production savings would be offset by the cost of touching up photographs.
The brand's main character strength can vary in different markets, so global campaigns wouldn't work, McDowell said.
Some analysts also have questions.
John Slaven, president of the Slaven consultancy in New Jersey, warned that carmakers should not try to use the same advertisements across different countries. He said there were cultural as well as language difficulties.
Slaven worked on a pan-European campaign for Volvo a decade ago at the agency Scali, McCabe, Sloves of New York. The campaign focused on safety and the lesson Slaven took from the experience was, 'You can't do the same interpretation of safety everywhere.'
John Bulcroft, president of the Advisory Group consultancy in New York state, said: 'There are still vast differences in the various markets involved. What drives people to purchase in one market may not do so in another.'
Volvo's worldwide program will cost an estimated $96 million. Volvo will launch the S80 in the US with a $30 million buy starting in mid-October.
A 15-second teaser spot will air during television broadcasts of World Series baseball games. It was developed by Volvo's New York agency, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG.
News weeklies will also carry teaser advertisements with the slogan: 'Volvos have always forced other cars to be safer. This one will force them to be better.' Abbot Mead Vickers/BBDO of London handled the strategy and print photography, which will be used worldwide.
'We wanted to develop the core equities of the brand on a worldwide basis,' said Mark LaNeve, vice president of marketing for Volvo Cars of North America.
Adding styling and performance to Volvo's long-standing safety image was a global challenge, he explained. The S80 has been positioned globally as 'the world's most exciting, safe choice.' That phrase may be used as a tag line in Europe and the Far East, but it will not be used in the USA.
Creative and media spending efficiencies are other benefits of the global approach. Volvo has also signed a contract with CNN as global sponsor of 'The World Beat.' Volvo's first global push was last spring, when it rolled out the C70 coupe and convertible in the USA.
Jaguar's two key agencies, WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and J Walter Thompson are preparing for the S-type campaign, Jaguar's first global effort.
Separate concepts from JWT and O&M have been tested with consumers in California, Germany, London, the Middle East, New York, Spain and Tokyo, said Al Saltiel, advertising marketing manager of Jaguar Cars North America.
The top creatives for the brand - Jasper Shelbourne of JWT's London office and O&M's Ralph Sotherland - met in New York at the beginning of September to blend the best of their work into one campaign. Target date for advertising is next year.
Jaguar may buy rights to music that will click with the brand and its target audience around the world, Saltiel said. He declined to discuss what music was under consideration.
Saab has just started the process of designing a global campaign. The automaker is working with its key agencies - Lowe Howard-Spink, London; the Martin Agency, Richmond, Virginia; and Lowe Brindfors, Stockholm. No details have emerged, and no date has been set for its debut.