Volvo's first global brand campaign favours online over TV as it looks to push 'edgier' image

Volvo Cars has released its first global brand campaign – ‘A New Beginning’ – the first major piece of work since it overhauled its marketing strategy, which saw an enlarged budget directed away from above-the-line (ATL) towards digital.

For the activity, the car maker forged a partnership with Swedish DJ Avicii to create a music video remake of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’.

Alain Visser, senior vice president sales, marketing and customer service at Volvo explained to The Drum that the collaboration was born out of more than just a shared Swedish heritage.

“We’re not loud; we’re understated. We don’t shout about how good we are. That’s very unusual in the automotive market which is telling the whole world that ‘we’re the best’, ‘the strongest’, have the best technology. It’s very clichéd. We stand for other values and Avicii is also an extremely understated individual; he’s shy and an introvert, despite having this huge fan club.”

The partnership has signalled a new direction for the traditional family brand as it moves towards being seen as slightly edgier, dynamic, and younger. In the past this campaign would have resulted in a high ATL spend, but instead YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other online channels have courted a greater portion of the budget. And while Volvo would have traditionally dedicated just 10 per cent of a the budget to digital media, for this digital will take around a third.

An edited version of the music video will be used on TV, but Visser described the ideal result as “a talk of town” media effect driven by social, predominantly YouTube.

“Let’s be honest, we’re a small brand and our advertising budgets will always be more limited than the big German and American players. So we can’t shout louder but we can shout differently,” said Visser.

Thinking differently about measurement inevitably follows with such a strategy and although Visser said traditional metrics such as GRP are still important, “pure views on YouTube has become a critical thing”.

“You have traditional measurement systems of GRPs and they will remain but I see them slightly cynically. For us reaching high views on YouTube is now important and that’s difficult to translate in the normal advertising measurement system like GRP. This is about getting maximum exposure on YouTube and a name like Avicii [1.6 million Twitter followers and 18.5 million Facebook likes] helps us achieve that.”

Volvo will heavily push the music video for the next couple of months and will work with Avicii in other ways over the coming year.

In 2013, Volvo Trucks – a separate company – saw massive success on YouTube with its Jean Claude Van Damme content, which continues to be regarded as one of the most successful online campaigns.

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