Car Maker Eyes Youth in I-Effort

Volvo will target under-35-year-old buyers looking to trade in their VW Jettas, Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys with an Internet effort that breaks this week for its redesigned S40 sedan.

Ads will run on more than 30 youth-skewing lifestyle Web sites, the initial salvo in a five-month campaign from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer Euro RSCG in New York. The effort also includes TV and print, which will launch in March, an Internet movie, grass-roots marketing, a direct-mail drop to 500,000 prospects and S40 owners, and a cross-promotion with Virgin Megastores—all with a pop-culture theme.

Spending was not disclosed. The overall effort is likely at least to match that of the Ford unit’s XC90 SUV launch in late 2002, according to Phil Bienert, manager of CRM and future products at Volvo in Irvine, Calif. That introduction got about $40 million in media support, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The Web promotion, “Four friends for life,” enables consumers to configure a Volvo Web site to describe their dream vacation and then invite three friends to come along. Ads touting the promotion will run on sites such as,,,,, and travel and entertainment sites. A sweepstakes offers the chance to win an S40 and make the virtual trip a reality.

Todd Sullivan, MVBMS account director for Volvo Interactive, said youth marketing is a new territory for Volvo, as is the media strategy. “These buyers are not watching a lot of TV,” he said. “They are doing something else. We want to be in that environment.”