If You Take a Virtual Test Drive Instead of Watching the Super Bowl, Volvo Might Give You a Car

It’s not an ad but close enough

Volvo wants eyes on its activation—not the game. Volvo
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Volvo’s game plan for the Super Bowl has nothing to do with the sport, but everything to do with distracting viewers from it.

The campaign, dubbed “The Longest Drive,” directs people to a website, where they’ll then have to watch a test drive video of the S60 Sedan. Three lucky viewers who look at their phone the longest will win a “Care by Volvo” subscription to the S60 Sedan. The video goes live at kickoff on Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. ET and lasts right up to the last whistle. Viewers can play as many times as they want.

“In terms of [the] activation, what better way to introduce people to a car than to take them on test drive?” said Bob Jacobs, vp of marketing, brand and communications at Volvo. “It also fits with our campaign of “Follow No One.” What better way to bring that to life than to not follow what all other automakers are doing by running an ad during the Super Bowl.”

This isn’t the first time Volvo’s pulled something like this for the Super Bowl; the car brand teamed up with Grey to run the “The Greatest Interception Ever” campaign back in 2015. During that stunt, Volvo asked people to tweet #VolvoContest while other car commercials ran during the game. Volvo worked with Grey again for this year’s activation, with Mindshare as its media agency.

“More brands are trying to find ways to participate in the Super Bowl without the TV numbers and TV commitment,” said Tristan Kincaid, executive creative director, Grey New York. “Second-screen experiences is one of the things that we really like about this. It does kind of continue with Volvo’s past of intercepting the Super Bowl.”

The mobile friendly website will teach people how to play the game, which is relatively simple—don’t take your eyes off the screen. The site uses facial recognition technology to ensure people don’t cheat. If someone looks away, the car on the “test drive” stops and a score pop ups. After people submit their information such as their name and email, another prompt will pop up asking them if they want to share their score on Facebook and Twitter and get their friends to beat them.

Jacobs said Volvo is running several social media campaigns to bring awareness to the game. The team also has contingency plans in case the site goes down or if something happens during the game that warrants Volvo to get involved and tweet.

For Volvo, the campaign is aiming to drive awareness of the company’s national subscription offering. However, taking away people’s attention from the game—and other competitors during the breaks—is a plus.

“In addition to taking away your attention from the TV screen, we’re also taking away your attention from the second screen,” Kincaid said.

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl LIII Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 3 for the best in-game coverage of the Super Bowl commercials anywhere.

@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.