What Vampire Weekend taught us about brand loyalty

Over at Pitchfork comes an article that Saab owners are in a tizzy because of a new video and promo shots featuring a Saab 900 on fire.

Sorry. That should be former Saab owners, since the cars were sold to the band's production company for the video. But once a Saab owner always a Saab owner.

Ezra Koening apologizes in Spinner saying "if the people selling their cars felt mislead by the production company that bought them... of course if we had been there, if we had been a part of it we would never lie to somebody just to get a car -- we could have easily found something else."

Wow, you'd think he was talking about using someone's pet dog instead of sheet metal and glass. What's even more amazing about this beyond the vitriol, heaped on it by the likes of Jalopnik is the fact that Saab hasn't made cars for a couple of years now. Which goes to show you that brand loyalty lasts longer than the brands. (Re: Twinkies)

And while the Saab enthusiasts wanted to blame the parent company GM for Saab's failures, the truth is, they declared bankruptcy in 2011 because they didn't sell enough cars.

To wit:

"In 2006 Saab reached its highest-ever sales level of about 133,000 cars. But by 2008 its sales had sunk to under 95,000."

It also didn't help that GM blocked any company from buying Saab to basically erase potential competition. Sounds like a business move to me.

In Saab's case, pure economics wins out over niche brand loyalty. Which is a shame because brand loyalty is organic, precious and irrational. I mean that in a good way, too. You can focus group the hell out of people to find out what they want, and you can try to manufacture brand loyalty, but it doesn't always work, especially around cars

Take Scion. They're not even giving their models time to develop the loyalty before getting rid of them. And that's the one thing people need. Time. Scion is a newborn in the world of cars, whereas Saab had been around since 1945.

More worrisome is the prevailing thought is that brand loyalty among car owners is dissipating, too.

Finding the root cause may be a chicken/egg thing. But if I'm a car brand, I'd take Saab's fan base to heart. There's more to learn from Vampire Weekend's snafu than any focus group.

about the author

kidsleepy CD copywriter with 18 years experience who has worked in many cities including New York, Atlanta, Montreal and currently Los Angeles. I snark because I care.