Saabsunited, once a gathering place for brand necrophiliacs and people with an-ignition-key-near-the-gearstick fetish, has morphed into a Vladmir Antonov fanzine. The banner on top of the site used to show the roof of the Saab plant in Trollhättan. Now it shows the roof of the Saab plant in Trollhättan with an “Approve Antonov” flag photoshopped-in.
There is a big blue square at the left of the homepage of Saabsunited that says “Support Vladimir Antonov” (according to Wikipedia, he is $ 300 million worth, how much more support does he need?) Clicking on the square leads you to a letter writing campaign that urges you in 9 languages to voice your displeasure with the Swedish government. You also are to DEMAND from the Swedish Prime Minister that he approves Antonov as a Saab shareholder. I’m sure a wave of Saab-spam will change the Prime Minister’s mind.
It is a mere coincidence that Saabsunited acronyms itself to ”SU,” an abbreviation previously reserved for the Soviet Union.
Recently, the tone on “SU” became shrill. Invectives were showered upon anybody who expressed the slightest doubt of Saab’s viability, or who dared to mention that Saab’s rescue hinged on a man who had been under suspicion of ties with organized crime, both by Sweden’s Säkerhetspolisen Säpo and its U.S. equivalent, the FBI.
And now, “Mr. Vladimir Antonov” (as he is reverentially referred to at SU) is calling the dogs back. In a letter to SU, Antonov writes:
“Vladimir Antonov, urge fans of Saab to act with awareness of pressure and sharp comments against the Swedish Government, as such activity does not contribute to the speedy and effective resolution of the situation.”
Oh, well, translation to English is tough sometimes, and this way, the Russian DNA is preserved. Antonov continues:
“We are thankful for the support, which is certainly needed, and are as many people around the world waiting for a positive resolution of all issues related to the details of the permission of ownership. However, we want to encourage you to behave correctly with respect to the Swedish Government in general and the people representing it.”
SU immediately behaved and asked its readers “to please refrain from harsh comments about the Swedish Government and individuals herein.”
Vladimir Antonov wrote another letter, to Sweden’s Industry Minister Maud Oloffson, in which Antonov requests an audience:
“It is imperative that I get the opportunity to discuss my motives, plans and the resources I have a meeting face-to-eye with you.”
In the same letter, Antonov throws his supporters under the bus. According to Sweden’s ttela, in the dispatch to the Minister, Antonov “expresses clearly that he wants to distance himself from everything that has been written about the Saab deal so far and his involvement in it.”
What does SU do? It dutifully writes about the letter from Antonov to the Minister, along with the part where Antonov distances himself from his sometimes rabid cheering section.
Lenin supposedly had an expression for people who see themselves as allies, but who are held in contempt by those who use them as long as they are useful.
Well, the cheerleading had been useful for at least one man. Writes The Local:
“In March, Saab announced that Australian blogger Steven Wade had been recruited to the company’s social media marketing team as reward for running the independent Saabs United blog from his Melbourne home.”
It is understandable that SU wants to keep Saab alive as long as possible.
PS: On March 15, Steven Wade said a long good-bye to Saabsunited, and Victor Muller wished “the new owner of Saabs United and his committed crew all the success in the world.” The problem is, there is no new owner. According to Whois, Saabsunited.com is still registered to:
PO Box 102
Rosny Park, Tasmania 7018
According to this information, it is fair to say that Saabsunited is owned by an employee of Saab. What’s for sale is Wade’s canary-yellow 1999 Saab 9-3- MonteCarlo, Maptune chipped with only 148,000 km on the clock, yours for AUD 8,900.
PPS: Expect the registration to be changed forthwith. We took a picture, just in case. Expect to hear that Steven Wade just forgot to change the registration of the domain. It happens to the best of us. However, the domain registration of Saabsunited has been updated as recently as today: Sun, 22 May 2011 15:11:00 UTC. And after that update, Wade was still the owner.