Volvo needs to quickly join up its branding dots


Back in February 2016, Volvo VP of global marketing Thomas Andersson talked to marketing week about the new global vision for Volvo after the launch of their rather cliche ridden yet compelling emotive ad questioning the motivations of automotive manufacturers around the world.

You can read the full interview here. To be honest, I found it a bit confusing. Andersson says, “We want to have a strong social message as if we just went down the same old route as our rivals [with celebrity campaigns] we would just be one of many, we wouldn’t be adding anything new. I believe the public want brands to stand for something important.”

The interview ends with a reference to the brand’s association with Avicii. I don’t know what this is exactly but do associations with DJ’s communicate importance?

Another comment that got my attention was ““Social plays such an important role when it comes to early adopters. They want to engage with Volvo but if we don’t respond quickly they will lose interest and move on. There’s a huge opportunity for us to engage more quickly and be there when people want to talk to us, and these changes enable that to happen.”

Yet the above video was deemed ‘unlisted’ on Youtube and carried a warning to “Be considerate and think twice before sharing.” I’ve never seen that before and seems to go against the very point of posting a video on Youtube. Unsurprisingly then, the video has only been viewed 1,771 times. I was surprised though to see that there was no attempt by Volvo to respond to the three comments.

Not long after I came across this digital ad from Volvo here in Malaysia. I couldn’t make sense of the ad, can you?

What is the point of this ad?
What is the point of this ad?

The Volvo brand has been tinkered with too often and it’s good to see them getting back to their safety roots. I think there is mileage in this approach. But they need to join up the global dots quickly. Local implementation is good but it still needs to be monitored and linked back to the global strategy.

First rule of auto advertising – keep it real!


We are carpet bombed with messages from the moment we wake up till the moment we go to sleep. Little wonder then that studies show we are increasingly oblivious to these messages.

As a result advertising agencies are increasingly hard pressed to cut through all the clutter and make us look, listen and absorb. To try and sell cars, those advertising agencies have for years used CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), think Honda and the ‘greatest ever car’ commercial, sex, think the Renault Megane ‘shake it’ campaign and humour, think Proton and ‘the Pontianak’ in their TV commercials.

Print advertising hasn’t escaped either. I don’t know exactly when automotive manufacturers started to make ridiculous claims in print advertising but I certainly remember when Toyota, in the late 1970s used “Oh what a feeling” to describe driving a Toyota!

I also remember Peugeot talking about the ‘lion leaping from strength to strength’ in the 1990s and the launch campaign for the first Proton MPV the Exora that claimed “You’ll be amazed” in 2009. I’m sorry but if I’m going to be amazed by the Exora then how will I feel about the Aston Martin V12 Zagato? Or, perhaps more relevant, how will I feel about the third version of the Exora due out in 2012?

Most recently I came across an online ad for the Volvo S60. The ad claims there are ‘naughty cars everywhere’ and that ‘naughty cars go everywhere’. The box ad features the price of the car and two links to either get naughty with the car or test drive it.

I decided to click on the get naughty link and was diverted to a landing page where I was encouraged to enter a website address. Naturally I entered my address and was confronted with this cringeworthy statement, “When we said naughty cars go everywhere…. we meant everywhere!”

You are then encouraged to ‘start your engines’ and the gimmick is that you can drive an S60 around your website very own website.

Once you get bored, and for most of you that will be after about 3 seconds, you can then request a test drive, invite a fried to have a go or close the tab, which I did. My memory of this exercise is the smoke coming out of the exhaust and the tyre tracks, not very environmentally considerate.

I don’t know about you but I think this campaign is flawed on numerous levels. To start with it really is a stretch to use the word naughty in the same sentence as Volvo. Secondly, what is naughty about the car? thirdly, what is naughty about maneuvering a car around a website? Finally, after all that effort, the campaign doesn’t collect any information on visitors!

You can see some good but hardly naughty volvo videos here