GM Gets Blogs. TV Is Another Story.

Good PR people today recommend that clients jump fearlessly in to the bloatosphere and join the conversation, as opposed to pretending it isn’t happening. Nathan Lyst of General Motors has taken that advise to heart. Here’s what he has to say in defense of his “Born from Jets” advertising campaign.

Thought I’d open myself up for direct assult and at the same time defend our choice in development of the “Born Form Jets” campaign.
I am the Saab Advertising Manager.
As for the strategic direction… “Born From Jets” is the most consumer relevant answer to the question; “Why buy a Saab?”. Saab’s aircraft heritage provides the foundation with which to explain the benefits of Saab’s uniquely designed and engineered vehicles.
The initial creative was purposely designed to overtly establish the fact that Saab was literally “Born from Jets”. This foundation is essential. We have found that once this fact is established it causes consumers to seek out more information. Whether through our website or through a visit to a dealership (both of which have seen increased traffic after the new creative started).
Based on the previous posts, I doubt I will be successful in changing your perspective on the campaign. Everyone’s an advertising expert (or at least they think they are). At the end of the day the results speak for themselves.

I wrote to Nathan this morning thanking him for braving the AdPulp waters. I also explained that I fully recognize he may have a successful campaign on his hands, and that my judgment is limited to the quality of the creative product. We all know creatives judge work differently than clients, or even account executives. The question for me is, “Would I want this work in my portfolio?”
Here’s the answer. I like the tagline. It delivers the brand’s heritage positioning in a clean, easy-to-recall way. But the TV is weak. First of all, how many car spots are shot in the Utah desert? Too many. Second, the jets in the spot are rendered in a fake, if not cheesy, manner. They’re flying too low to the ground and following, not leading, the car. Jets don’t do that. Suspend disbelief, I know.
So for me, it’s about poor production values and the lack of a big idea. For the record, I think Saab can come back with more creative executions of their strategy. In fact, I hope they do.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Bravo, David and congratulations, Nathan.

  2. Well, it’s clear that people who love Saabs are pretty passionate in their allegiance. Kudos to Saab for inspiring such devotion. In fact, that passion — if properly analyzed and applied by decent account planners and advertising creatives — would probably lead to a better campaign concept than “Born from Jets.”
    David Burn makes an odd comment: “So for me, it’s about poor production values and the lack of a big idea.” Gee, David, you sound like the client who says in a creative presentation, “I love the ad — just write a new headline and replace the visual.” Contrary to anything old school adfolks might believe, today’s business runs on stellar execution and big ideas. If your execution is mediocre and your idea is not big, you suck.
    In the December 19, 2005 edition of Advertising Age’s Book Of Tens, they list the 10 Worst Strategy Changes. Lo and behold, Number 5 reads: “Under new leadership, GM’s Saab brand changed its advertising from a ‘State of Independence’ theme and returned to its fighter-jet roots with the tag ‘Born from Jets’ to try to boost awareness of its aircraft-inspired design and performance. Lowe, New York, handled both. Saab had driven down the aircraft heritage ad road in 1997 and in the late 1980s. If that strategy was so successful then, why didn’t it last?” Making a “10 Worst” list in a major trade publication is hardly cause for celebration.
    (Additionally, it also adds more suspicion over the print ad Lowe ran in Adage recently, claiming the publication considered the new Saab tagline to be great.)
    Guess this argument will remain unresolved. Based on the responses posted on AdPulp and Ernie Schenck’s blog, most ad professionals question the alleged wonderfulness of “Born from Jets.” And most Saab lovers and Lowe employees view it as the next big thing. To each their own.
    Maybe Saab is getting positive sales from “Born from Jets.” But that only leads one to imagine how far the brand would fly with great advertising.
    Happy holidays.

  3. Wow, now I sound like a client. You’re one tough cusomter, High Jive.