In the weeks following Super Bowl Sunday, the media was buzzing and headlines read: “The Greatest Interception Ever” -Financial Times, “Volvo Gets Mileage from other Car Commercials” -AdvertisingAge, “Volvo Ambushes Competition with Interception Campaign” -The New York Times, and “A Twitter Touchdown” -The Wall Street Journal.
Tidbits about the brand
*Disclaimer: This part might not be so intriguing, but keep reading the good stuff is coming.
The origin story of Volvo is quite unique. To begin with, this automotive giant’s signature name which means “I Roll” in Latin was originally registered in 1911 with the aim of selling ball bearings. They’ve come a long way.
The two founders of Volvo wanted to create a car specifically for Sweden. Which meant it needed to be durable enough to endure Swedish roads and weather conditions. This emphasis on durability is still evident in Volvo’s products today. By the year 1930 Volvo trucks were dominating the market place. From the 1950’s onward Volvo expanded into many different market places, you know diversifying away from ball bearings. This was done through acquiring various well established businesses. By doing this they expanded into markets like:
- Construction Equipment
- Harvesting Equipment
- The Truck and Bus Industry
- Boating Equipment
- The Oil Industry
- Financial Services
Volvo believes that “transport combats poverty”. Their mission is to make the world a better place through making their products number one on the roads, in the city, off road, and at sea. This ambitious mission is supported by their vision of “being in the people business.” At Volvo they are forward thinking; people make the decisions, people represent the brand, and people promote quality products.
Exactly how did their campaign score a Twitter touchdown?
Avoiding sports metaphors when talking about this ingenious campaign is a near impossibility. It could actually be made into a game: Spot the sports metaphor. Any way, I’m sure you’re curious to find out exactly how Sweden stole the Super Bowl, an all American sport.
Step 1: Being on the Ropes
Volvo was experiencing low exposure in one of their biggest markets, the U.S. To combat this problem, they consulted the renowned advertising and marketing firm GREY. Which brings us to step two.
Step 2: The Game Plan
Super Bowl Sunday is not only a big deal in the world of sports but also in the world of advertising. According to the American Advertising Association an advertisement during the Super Bowl averages $5 million, excluding production costs. This might seem like a hefty amount, however keep in mind that ± 114 million people watch the Super Bowl. This of course provided Volvo with the perfect hail mary to save their market share in the U.S. However, Volvo felt that amount of money could be better used to improve their product for their consumers (quality and people again shown as a top priority). This lead to Volvo challenging GREY to deploy unconventional tactics, and boy did they take that challenge to heart. They would hi-jack their competitors’ expensive advertisements.
Step 3: Come out Swinging
Instead of creating one expensive advertisement that would be forgotten the next day, Volvo deployed a secret weapon: Social Media. They launched videos that were seeded through online channels in collaboration with The Jimmy Kimmel Live Show. People could stand to win an out of the box XC60 for someone who inspires them by Tweeting about the person with the hashtag #VolvoContest every time a competitor’s ad aired during the Super Bowl. This campaign was two pronged. First, it wanted to drive home the message that Volvo cares about people. Secondly, it distracted from competitors by using their own million dollar ads to create buzz about Volvo.
Step 4: Slam Dunk
The campaign was a huge success. For four hours, during the Super Bowl, Volvo received 50000 Tweets. Making them the only car brand to trend both locally and internationally. This exposure resulted in a 70% sales increase, of the XC60 the following month. This might just be the greatest interception in Super Bowl history.