INTERNATIONAL: GCI Group poised to run entire Saab US brief

NORCROSS, GA: General Motors-owned Saab Cars USA is set to appoint

GCI Group for its entire US PR account.

The move coincides with the appointment of head of corporate

communications Kevin Smith, who takes up the top PR post early next


Saab's current US communications head, Eric Geers, leaves the US this

week for GM's Zurich office to take an as yet untitled new position.

Geers has taken the interim measure of hiring the Brandware Group to

handle Saab's communications until Smith arrives from another GM

division on 1 February.

Brandware is headed by managing partner Elke Martin, who also previously

handled PR for Saab.

Saab already works with GCI in other international markets.

The agency was hired as Saab's agency of record in Sweden five months

ago to handle internal and external communications, including speech

writing and media relations (PRWeek, 20 July).

It is expected the US deal with GCI will be finalised in January.

GCI would handle media relations with the auto press, but would also try

to extend awareness of Saab to lifestyle publications and other non-auto

outlets, Geers said.

Saab is also looking to hire an East Coast PR manager as it gears up to

support new product introductions in upcoming years.

The group announced in September that Swedish-based Saab was considering

building cars at one of GM's North American plants as part of a

group-wide expansion plan.

The US is expected to play a large part in Saab's future strategies,

with sales predicted to grow from 70,000 to 100,000 a year.

GM took full control of Saab last year after acquiring a 50 per cent

stake in 1989.

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