Volvo is doing something new. After a lifetime of standing for "safety," they're going to try and stand for both "safety AND sexy." For those of us who love this business, this will be one to watch.
Let's set the stage.
On the agency side we have Arnold and Nitro...two excellent shops working together. Who can forget the great Arnold stuff for VW in the late nineties? (My favorite). Arnold has also proven that they work well with rival agencies (truth / Crispin).
Volvo needs the push. Sales are down 8.8% vs. year ago and they're moving 63,441 units in the US. Added to this there's also said to be a strategic review of the brand underway by parent company Ford.
Strategically, I love this. My time spent alongside the Mitsubishi team at Deutsch taught me that style and sexiness can sell well-designed autos to a younger buyer. (example) And, as the WSJ reported last Thursday, Volvo is after that younger buyer.
As always, it's about the product: Mitsubishi and VW both proved this approach works so long as the design is uniquely enticing...and plans to remain uniquely enticing without drastic shifts. I feel it's no coincidence that as soon as the Jetta was redesigned (to look more "grown up") sales and advertising both declined. A similar thing happened at Mitsu with their model re-designs and product evolutions. You be the judge if Volvo looks the part now: US models--we'll have to wait to see future models.
The new tagline is "Life is Better Lived Together" and the focus is on couples and families, not just families like past Volvo advertising. The first ad breaks Sept 7.
Volvo currently has one of the most fortified positions in the mind: Safety. (Try to pull out one word strategies for other car brands and receive unanimous agreement.) The question for all of us in this business is: Can a brand who stands for something so ownable, expand and get new customers, without alienating its core, by using all the marketing tools that are available today? Being curious, I'll follow how it unfolds.