At a weapons fair in Qatar in late March, the company informed potential buyers that its Gripen fighter planes guaranteed a high ”death ratio”, newspaper Expressen reports.
In its marketing materials, the firm also boasts that its Bill 2 anti-tank guided weapon contains a ”soft target mode” that can be used to hone in on civilian houses, cars, and groups of people.
Asked about the JAS 39 Gripen’s ”See first – Kill first” slogan, Saab spokeswoman Marie Karlsson told Expressen:
”I actually don’t know what we were thinking when we used those words. I wasn’t involved in making that judgment or taking that decision,” she said.
Pressed further, she declined to criticize the company’s choice of wording.
”We are after all a defence and security company working with defence-related products. Like any other company, we make use of marketing messages.”
But Henrik Westander at PR agency Westander Publicitet & Påverkan lamented the fact that very little appeared to have changed in the defence industry in marketing terms over the last three decades.
”I remember how [Swedish defence firm] Bofors marketed an anti-aircraft gun in the United States in the 1980s using an image of a sharp-shooting cowboy drawing both his pistols at the same time.
“They wanted to give the impression that it was all a game, and it’s still like that now,” he told Expresssen.