By on September 25, 2008

Apparently, there’s an ad-copywriting school that offers a course called “If It’s Way Too Complicated To Explain, Just Lie.” In the October issue of Vanity Fair, a Saab 9.3 Turbo ad proclaims, “We believe every person should recycle. And so should every engine.” So far so good. But according to the body copy, “By taking exhaust that typically escapes out the tailpipe and redirecting it back into the engine, the Saab Turbo maximizes performance…” Now wait a minute. Saab engines can run on exhaust gases? There are three possibilities here. One is that the copywriters simply decided nobody actually cares how a turbocharger works. Another is that one of the creatives remembered hearing about something called “exhaust-gas recirculation.” But the most likely is that the dumb strokes have no idea how a turbo works and don’t care. How the mäktig have fallen.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

34 Comments on “Vanity Fair Saab 9-3 Ad: Turbo-Charged Dumheter...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Well, it’s true, for a given value of ‘true”, that a turbocharger does take gases back to the engine. That “to” is important: it implies proximity, not entering. Technically, it’s not a lie, though it’s far more a fabrication than what Lexus got smacked with for the RX400h.

    And yes, it’s sad to see this. Of course, just watching a new (for a given value of “new”) 9-5 drive past is worse.

  • avatar

    You should read the pseudoscientific nonsense they put on fancy shampoo bottles

  • avatar
    thebeastofrock

    @psarhjinian

    Well, it’s true, for a given value of ‘true”, that a turbocharger does take gases back to the engine. That “to” is important: it implies proximity, not entering.

    Actually, the ad said, “redirecting it back into the engine.” So, it really did say that the exhaust gas actually travels inside the engine.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    “into the engine” seems to rule out the turbocharger. They must be talking about EGR, which has been around in production cars since the 1970s.

    Wikipedia has a discussion of EGR. Humorously, the example picture is of a Saab (a 21 year old one at that!).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhaust_gas_recirculation

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I always wanted to get into the “Ad Game.” How is this for my try-out:

    “Buy a SAAB — it breathes its own farts!”

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Actually, the ad said, “redirecting it back into the engine.” So, it really did say that the exhaust gas actually travels inside the engine.

    My reading comprehension skills are really quite poor these days. ETA: No, wait, the TTAC summary did say “To” when I quoted it.

    Of course, I didn’t read the actual ad, so fair’s fair.

  • avatar
    phargophil

    GM does own Saab, right? We’ve all poked fun at the latest GM ad campaigns. Why should Saab have better ad quality than GM?

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    Exhaust gases do not return to the engine intake. Think of a turbocharger as a mechanical air pump which boosts intake manifold pressure. The power to move the pump is provided by exhaust gas expansion, but the exhaust does not enter the intake side of the pump for obvious reasons.

  • avatar
    snabster

    I had to suffer through those ads while watching the Tour de France, and trying to understand why my hyper-efficient-fart breathing Saab only would get 16 MPG in city. Something about it weighing 3400 pounds, I guess.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    … why my hyper-efficient-fart breathing Saab only would get 16 MPG in city. Something about it weighing 3400 pounds, I guess.

    If you can avoid digging into the boost, a Saab can get very good mileage. I tend to treat the boost guage like an instant-fuel-economy readout, and I do quite well in-city. Mind you, I have an NG900, not an Epsilon.

    Dig into it, though, and it goes all to hell.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    psarijinian, I just went back and looked at my original copy, and it says “into.”

    Sunnyvale, they’re quite clearly talking about the turbocharger, not EGR.

    Ken Elias, we know.

  • avatar

    Stephan Wilkinson :

    Yup, no editing there. Cut and paste.

    But don’t worry: it’s what’s called a “negative hallucination.” Happens all the time. Most often on Friday nights, after a couple of bottles of Coppola’s finest.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    psarijinian, I just went back and looked at my original copy, and it says “into.”

    Damn

    Yup, no editing there. Cut and paste. But don’t worry: it’s what’s called a “negative hallucination.” Happens all the time. Most often on Friday nights, after a couple of bottles of Coppola’s finest.

    And I’ve only fatigue and not alcohol to excuse myself. Bummer

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    They simply doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about. It’s downright scary… But hey, we are talking about a company that uses “Born from jets” as a credo, though the company hasn’t made any jets in decades. Though I kind of like the irony that GM uses Saabs 60 years of experience in FWD promoting GM as being in the forefront of evolution, when GM bought the company just twenty years ago. Talk about taking credit where credit is not due…

    Nice swenglish, by the way….

  • avatar
    snabster

    @ psarijinian;

    Yeah, but NOT using the boost kinda defeats the point of the commercial, doesn’t it.

    Not using boost, extremely MPG conscious driving (coast down hills), e10, and AC in the summer gets me 16 MPG. But that is true city driving, stop and go every block. Give me a highway, and I’m at 30-33 easily. Suburban driving is around 20-21 — I do so little of it I can’t tell.

    And in NG.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    Sorry, but this statement is not quite as outragous as saying I have foreign policy because I have seen pictures of the Taj Mahal in my Viewmaster.

    The exhaust from the pistons/cylinders pass through the blades in the turbo, causing the turbine to spin. The more exhaust, the faster the turbo spins. The other end of the turbo shaft powers a compressor pumps air into the cylinders.

    So, I guess I don’t see the problem. Saab and any other turbo charged car recycle the power of the exhaust gas to push a turbine, instead of letting it flow unrestricted into the air.

    But it sure seems that many people on this board are obsessed with trashing Saab. Too bad for you.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “But it sure seems that many people on this board are obsessed with trashing Saab. Too bad for you.”

    It seems that Saab (or rather, Saabs parent company GM) is obsessed with trashing the little reputation Saab had in the field of turbo-charging. And too bad for Saab and GM, as it makes them look rather stupid. Or would you buy a car from a salesman that didn’t know his ass from his elbow?

    Saying that turbo charging is made “By taking exhaust that typically escapes out the tailpipe and redirecting it back into the engine” is not only over-simplification bordering on retardation, it is actually an insult to the buyers that consists of Saabs customer demographic. If there’s one big no-no in advertising, it is to treat your customers as imbecills. Nobody wants to be taken for a fool, a buyer of a premium brand even less so.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Saab and any other turbo charged car recycle the power of the exhaust gas to push a turbine, instead of letting it flow unrestricted into the air.

    True in that is reclaims kinetic energy that’s otherwise wasted, false in that it doesn’t “reuse” the air itself.

    But it sure seems that many people on this board are obsessed with trashing Saab. Too bad for you.

    No one hates Saab like a Saab owner, mostly because those of us that got on board early and witnessed the decline in recent years find it too painful to let slide without poking GM for it.

    I remember rides in a relative’s 900 SPG when I was very young. It was the coolest car I’d ever been in: the hood opened backwards, the ignition was on the floor, the shape was unlike anything else and it was able to waste much bigger-engined cars once it got up to speed.

    It was the coolest car short of Italian unobtainium in my eyes, especially when you consider the state of automobilia in the mid-eighties.

    When I finally got the chance, I bought one of my own. I love it, but I despair the dismal quality and service experience under GM’s tutelage, and I absolutely abhor the trashing of the brand that’s happened since about 2003 onwards. Saab had a real chance to get buyers who would otherwise never have considered a GM car, but the marketing and product planning was done either half-assed (9-2, 9-7x), entirely wrong (the sedan-only 9-3) not at all (the left-to-rot 9-5, the aborted 9-6).

    By all rights, a modern Saab should have had hybrid powertrains hooked to some funky powerplant, like a rotary or gas turbine. It should offer a station wagon with sliding rear doors, or four-wheel steering, or something. It should be fiercely weird, not woefully mundane.

    It’s sad. And to see GM trotting out drivel like this just twists the knife a little more.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Yeah, but NOT using the boost kinda defeats the point of the commercial, doesn’t it.

    Not really. Forced induction is like variable displacement in reverse: a way to increase the functional displacement of an engine under demand, but instead of lugging around half an engine block and thee or four dead cylinders, all we have is an overbuilt air pump.

    The problem is that people have gotten their knickers in a twist about turbo lag, and manufacturers have done everything in their power to eliminate it by having the turbo(s) spool up sooner. This works, but at the expense of mileage. I daresay, if you’re going to have a four that drinks like a six, you may as well have a six.

    There’s no real need to spool the turbo out of every light, except that other drivers seem to do the same. Personally, I don’t see city traffic as a race, and get quite good mileage as a result.

    I still love those 80-to-120 pulls, through.

  • avatar
    Jeff in NH

    Nobody wants to be taken for a fool, a buyer of a premium brand even less so.

    May I introduce you to all the MB owners across this great land, most of whom are still oblivious?

  • avatar
    sawaba

    I think this ad still doesn’t compare to head-smacking frustration I felt at first seeing an ad for the Saab 9-7X that proclaimed, “Born from Jets”.

    Yeah, I don’t think so. I’m thinking the Chevy Trailblazer and Swedish jets have, oh, about -2% in common.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    “Yeah, I don’t think so. I’m thinking the Chevy Trailblazer and Swedish jets have, oh, about -2% in common.”

    QFT. Another technicality, the Gripen is powered by a Volvo jet engine, so doesn’t that mean that a “born from jets” Saab should have a Volvo T6 in it?

  • avatar
    LastResort

    Where is that link to Direct Exhaust Injection, when I need it?

  • avatar

    Saab’s ad agency shows its stupidity again and again in their ads. Now only is the “Born from Jets” slogan so far removed from the truth that even a politician would be uncomfortable stating it, the ad showing the jet morphing into a 9-7x has the engine placed sideways in the engine bay. They did some innovative reengineering on that Trailblazer to make it into the Saablazer. Not only did they move the ignition key to the console but they also turned the engine 90 degrees!

    But then again, you have to ask who is more stupid – the idiot at the ad agency who comes up with this crap or the idiot at GM who approves the ads.

  • avatar
    threeer

    *sigh* I just miss the funky 900. Cozy interior, unmistakable design. Hell, at least you knew you were driving something different! GM has numbed SAAB down so much that it is now hardly recognizable as anything other than just another GM…

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    Isn’t it a bit silly to dissect an ad word for word, to search for implied meanings? An ad especially a visual add is not about precise technical point or about imparting specific knowledge, it’s about image and sound associations in the viewers brain, it’s about how it makes one feel. On that level Saab commercials are fairly good, even born from jets where the imaging is really excellent. But I would admit that sticking a GM truck in that commercial is a bit too much.

    If I were to single out poor commercials I would cite Toyota commercials in Canada. “Real people selling real cars” as opposed to what “Baboons selling fisher toy cars”? But that’s not the worst thing about them. The worst thing is that the commercials have no interesting visuals or audio and therefore force one to really contemplate the stupid slogan “Real people selling real cars!”. Guess what, I have never shoped a Toyota and with a slogan like that I probably never will.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Didn’t dissect the ad word for word. Simply took issue with the very clear English that maintains that Saab engines run on exhaust gas that is redirected back into the engine, which is buehlchit.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “Isn’t it a bit silly to dissect an ad word for word, to search for implied meanings?”

    No, I don’t think so. An ad is supposed to sell me something. An ad done well will do that. I can buy into a product hype, it can be a feeling, or an idea, or perhaps a sense of belonging to a chosen group of people who take delight in being different. An ad done wrong will do me nothing, or it may even upset or infuriate me. It doesn’t matter how the ad is constructed, if it has words, only pictures, if it makes comparisons to competitors, if the ad tries to tell me how good the product is at what it does. A good ad is instantly recognizable as being good, it evokes feelings of pleasure, joy, belongings, desires, the I-gotta-have-it-right-now. You don’t have to analyze or dissect something to know what it’s all about. The point with ads is the speed of delivering the message, and invoking the desire of instant gratification. An ad has perhaps a couple of seconds to deliver that.

    And that Saab ad does nothing of that. It tells me that it’s main focus lies in stupid, ignorant imbecills who know nothing of Saabs, the Saab-brand, turbocharging, debunking greenwashing myths, or cars in general. It tells me that Saabs main demographic consists of former Saturn buyers who doesn’t know any better than to be talked to like they were three years old. Actually, being talked to like I was stupid makes me want to hit somebody over the head with a large plank. And I don’t think that was what Saab had intended me to feel…

  • avatar
    jimble

    Oh…. do they still make Saabs?

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Perhaps they could show one of those dumb dogs that eats its own poo to illustrate the point.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    16MPG? Really? My CUV AWD gets 25 mpg most of the time. Ouch…

    The turbo lag adjustments were an eye opener. Good points.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Some of you guys really need to get over yourselves here!

    So what YOU actually know how a turbocharger works! Go pat yourself on the back for that but, NEVER forget about all of those other things in life you are totally ignorant about!

    Come on, this ad is simply a “play on words” and is meant for folks that would say “who cares” if you told them the ad might be slightly misleading depending on how you look at it.

    Look, I know cars, computers, and history/ politics so people do ask me about that type of stuff. I do NOT know jack about many other things and sometimes seek out other more knowledgeble folks to answer my questions. Most them would not know a EGR valve from a turbo or a turbocharger from a supercharger.

    If anyone that does not know how a Turbocharger works but wants to know and has a “real” understanding of how the Fed Reserve works I would gladly trade knowledge with you right now.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “If anyone that does not know how a Turbocharger works but wants to know and has a “real” understanding of how the Fed Reserve works I would gladly trade knowledge with you right now.”

    The difference is, You are not trying to sell me something. It would be a whole another matter if you were working for the feds and were trying to sell me the idea that Detroits $25 billion bailout is not a bailout but a loan, then I would say that was a crock of shit. No one likes to be talked down to, and that’s that.

  • avatar
    ixus

    “By taking exhaust that typically escapes out the tailpipe and redirecting it back into the engine, the Saab Turbo maximizes performance…”

    What wrong with that? Turbo is consider part of engine. The whole engine/turbo is built together in the same plant and ship together as a unit. I don’t know why someone would make a big deal out of this (exhaust). It’s like water cooler and water goes into engine… doesn’t mean you have to “burn” water. Water carried heat energy away, and exhaust is redirected into the engine unit (turbo) to reuse its kinetic energy. What’s not accurate?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States