Grey New York, Volvo and Walt Whitman Take to the Open Road

By Patrick Coffee 

Wednesday, the Adweek softball team defeated Grey by a final score of 1-0 in what was, by all accounts, a tough, but honorable down-to-the-wire battle.

In more relevant news, the agency’s latest campaign for Volvo revisits the work of that seminal New Yorker, Walt Whitman.

In promoting the brand new S90 luxury sedan, this spot sees Generic Writer seeking inspiration in an America far from Whitman’s Manhattan. As you’ll see around the :30 mark, he really does want to go where the buffalo roam.

The ad quotes from Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” in illustrating just that, and for some reason we find Josh Brolin’s VO delivery a bit more compelling than Jon Snow reciting William Blake while driving an Infiniti.

Swedish director Niclas Larsson and Oscar-nominated cinematographer/David Fincher favorite Jeff Cronenweth worked on this ad, and it shows in the array of shots joined only by their artsy depictions of remote, presumably American landscapes bookended by the dark Anywhere, U.S.A. diner.

In an alternate :30, the narrative becomes a bit clearer as Mr. Writer, frustrated by his inability to come up with a good idea, throws his shit into a bag and goes out for an extended drive punctuated by the occasional fox.

The latest iteration of the non-linear “Our Idea of Luxury” campaign will run on TV, radio, digital and social media “during 2016 and beyond.”

Volvo is also partnering with Uber on autonomous cars, which leads us to wonder whether Grey and Deutsch will be collaborating anytime soon. Even though the company’s current “driverless” units actually have two drivers, the idea feels inevitable.


Advertiser: Volvo Cars
Spot Title: Song of the Open Road
Agency:  Grey NY

Chief Creative Officer: Andreas Dahlqvist
Executive Creative Director: Matt O’Rourke
Art Director: Denise O’Bleness
Copywriter: Walt Whitman
Designer: Neil Maclean
Agency Producer: Lauren Tuttman
Agency Music Producer: Ben Dorenfeld

Production Company (location): Iconoclast / Anonymous
Director: Niclas Larsson
Director of Photography: Jeff Cronenweth
Editor Alvaro Del Val, UpperCut
EVP: Janique Helson, EVP
VP, Account Director: Lea Mastroberti