For more than two weeks, Saabhuggers have taken over GM’s Facebook page, plastering “Let Saab go!” all over the site. Yesterday, the occupation has been officially endorsed by Saab.
GM sources which requested anonymity, citing possible legal implications, mentioned to TTAC that the attacks have “all signs of a coordinated campaign.” That is putting it mildly.
Responsibility as initiators of the campaign was assumed on November 11 by an Italian splinter group named Saabway Club.
On November 16, Saabsunited, the fanzine for the zombie brand, reported that “the on-line Saab community have started one action to let GM know that we are still alive and here.” Then, the fanzine could not help it and sent out a call to action to the Saab faithful: “Time to act?”
Yesterday, former Saabsunited-owner-turned-Saab-PR-flack Steven Wade decided to say to hell with the timid question marks, he broke cover and published on the official inside.saab website what can only be read as endorsement and encouragement of the virtual occupation:
“I want to acknowledge this fan-based movement, started and sustained by Saab enthusiasts on Facebook, using the social media tools freely available to them and everyone who uses the site. We have observed the movement and I want you to know that as always, your faith in our products and your desire to see Saab successful is a great morale boost for all who work with Saab.”
In a rather clumsy CYA attempt, Wade (and Saab) urge Saab fans to conduct the occupation “with respect and dignity.”
What represents respect and dignity is not defined. However, Wade and Saab say that “99.9% of people” have shown such respect and dignity during the occupation, and “there will always be one or two, however, who get a little too enthusiastic in getting their point across.” The reader remains without information of where the limit is and who the one or two that overstepped the boundaries may have been. 99.9 percent of the occupiers of GM’s site received a wholesale thumbs up from Saab.
We can safely assume that the call for respect and dignity is a throwaway statement, and that Saab’s on-line spokesperson and all-around hero of the true believers encourages the Saabinistas to continue the siege of GM’s Facebook site.
What we see here is perfect proof that Saab has fallen in the hands of rank amateurs, from Victor Muller down to its chubby wannabe flack from down-under. The true art of flackery often is practiced in what you don’t say.
In this case, if you are Saab, you want to look the other way and act as if you have seen nothing. If someone asks you, you say that as a matter of policy, you don’t comment on other carmakers. Only if you want to commit public relations suicide, you express sympathy and support for the squatters. And only if you are absolutely delirious or had too much Absolut, you sit down and demonstrate that sympathy and support in an official company blog.
With Vladimir Antonov accused of raping two of his banks and funneling funds to Saab, with salaries unpaid again, with unions most likely on their way to bankruptcy court on Monday, with no more money from China, Saab requires all the friends it can get. What it needs most is GM. GM can block any sale of Saab. Saab needs to remain in GM’s good graces.
Saab needs to be careful in what it wishes for. GM could act favorably to the “Let Saab go” demands and indeed will let Saab go.
P.S.: The Italian initiators of the campaign took note of the official recognition, and vowed to continue the jihad with the required respect and dignity.