Brands in the News

Volvo, Van Damme and the Future of Marketing

27 Nov , 2013  

The world of marketing is changing. Traditional media vehicles are losing effectiveness as people communicate in new and different ways. Mass audiences are fragmenting into small segments. Developing a point of difference is harder than ever.

Many business leaders are uncertain about the future. What will great marketing look like in the years ahead?

Volvo’s new spot shows the way.

The ad features Jean-Claude Van Damme doing a remarkable stunt to dramatize a new technology, the Volvo Dynamic Steering system. You can watch it here:


The spot works in many ways.

First, it breaks through the clutter. It is visually arresting, surprising and beautiful. After watching it once I wanted to watch it again and again.

Second, it has solid branding; it is clear that this is for Volvo.

Third, it communicates a benefit. The entire spot revolves around Volvo’s remarkable new technology. It is very clear that Volvo has something special and remarkable.

The ad has generated an astonishing amount of buzz. In just two weeks, more than 52 million people have watched it on You Tube. There are dozens of parody spots.

It is engaging, well branded and product focused.

It isn’t perfect; there are two notable issues. First, it is not clear why this technology is important. The Volvo Dynamic Steering system provides great stability and is easier to drive. Is this a significant benefit? Does the technology solve a major problem?

Second, there is a basic branding problem. This is a spot for Volvo trucks. The Volvo car business is a completely different company. This shared brand ownership is a challenge. I suspect many people will visit their local Volvo dealer looking for a car with that impressive steering system.

Still, the problems here are minor compared with the overall impact. This is the future of great marketing.

*  *   *

On Thanksgiving I will be in Chicago enjoying the day and some wonderful food with my wife’s family and giving thanks for a great year.

On Friday I will be out visiting stores. I won’t buy anything of note; I will just enjoy the frenzy. It is an exciting day for anyone in marketing. The deals are not as remarkable as they seem but the energy is contagious.

Have a wonderful holiday and give thanks for all the good things in your life.

One Response

  1. Matthew T. says:

    My guess is that the problem it solves is covered by the trucks driving in reverse. Ever try to drive with a trailer in reverse? It is super hard to stay straight. I didn’t notice that right away, but it makes the ad even more impressive.

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