Volvo truck commercial goes viral, but will it help build the brand?

In 2011 Volvo posted its largest year-on-year increase in truck sales for the North American market. The market saw an impressive sales volume increase of 75%.

Since then the company has struggled to compete in a tough economic environment and even though 2012 saw the overall truck market in North America rise 52%, Volvo, owned by Geely, China saw sales drop by 6%. The company recorded double digit drops in China and Sweden and predicted a tough 2013.

At the same time, there is a boardroom fight going on between Chief Executive Stefan Jacoby and Vice Chairman Hans-Olov Olsson that often gets bitterly personal.

In Malaysia the company has faired better with 2012 sales up an impressive 42% from 2011. I haven’t seen any advertising campaigns for Volvo trucks in Malaysia but the latest commercial has gone viral and will no doubt get some coverage here.

The commercial features Jean Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two Volvo trucks driving backwards into the sunset to an Enya tune. It’s an impressive stunt and JC is in excellent shape but will the commercial make a difference to Volvo truck sales?

Will this impressively produced commercial get potential customers to review their purchasing options? Will it get logistics companies to revise their transportation tenders to include the line, “All vehicles must come with the equivalent of Volvo’s Dynamic Steering System”?

Surely such a unique and impressive bit of technology needs to be experienced by a potential driver/buyer first hand?

Of course I don’t know the full extent of the Volvo truck brand strategy going forward but to me, whilst the exploits of JC are impressive I find them a distraction, damaging the attempts by Volvo to draw my attention to a cool bit of kit. Do you agree or am I just an old cynic?


7 thoughts on “Volvo truck commercial goes viral, but will it help build the brand?

  1. Hi

    I enjoy your posts and posers and just thought to link you up here with this bit of background on the Volvo ad, if you haven’t already seen it –

    In particular, this bit –

    When Volvo began planning the launch of five new trucks 12 months ago, the creative team adopted a strategy of producing YouTube films that would create attention, and inform and entertain audiences, Vilhelmsson (Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager for the Volvo Trucks brand) said. That would pave the way for future advertising and sales campaigns in local markets.

    With the Van Damme video, Volvo wanted to illustrate the new dynamic steering model in a spectacular way, and reach beyond traditional markets. “We need to target not only truck drivers, but future truck drivers. Young people who are facing a choice of a future career,” he said.

    “We know the media landscape is changing,” he said. “We have different media consumption habits today than a couple years ago. So that is why we invest in this cost-efficient way of reaching out to millions of people online.”

    Curious if you have any additional comment…

    Many thanks for your time.

    Cheers! Sent from a mobile device



  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Funnily enough, I do have something to add!

    1) Will anyone remember this ad in 3 months? Do you remember the ballerina ad mentioned in the article you linked to? How else could the money have been spent to engage prospective markets? Just because 30 million people see the ad doesn’t mean it is successful.
    2) The focus of the article seems to be on Van Damme and his gymnastic ability, stunt and the one take, the director, the safety features of the stunt and so on and only 1 para on the technology which actually isn’t that new.
    3) How many truck drivers buy their own trucks compared to those bought by companies? Is a mass economy approach to marketing in the social economy the right way forward for a struggling brand?
    4) As for targetting future truck drivers, I think you’ll need to work harder than this to remain relevant.
    5) You mention the new economy and reaching out to millions of people online but why are they doing that? In the new economy, you don’t have to reach out to millions of people in the hope that your message will stick with enough of them so that some will buy. And anyway, this is truck sales not detergent sales.
    6) Volvo sells 200,000 trucks annually wordwide. It is not a volume business.


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