Volvo Makes Luxury Play in New Campaign

Takes aim at the likes of Mercedes, Audi

Volvo has launched a new campaign that paints the brand in a luxury light, taking on the likes of Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and in particular, the Audi A4.

In an initial TV ad from Arnold Worldwide, a trophy wife-type in a Mercedes stops at a traffic light alongside a mom in a Volvo S60. Each checks her look in the rear-view mirror with very different results. The voiceover explains: “Volvos aren’t for everyone, and we kinda like it that way.”

“There’s a certain segment of luxury car buyers who are very independent and eschew what is expected of them,” Arnold executive director Don Lane explained. “They have a different set of priorities. Going after a predictable luxury car is not for them.”

That sentiment sets the tone for other elements of the campaign. Outdoor ads use lines like “Pretense is so past tense” and are tailored to key auto markets like Los Angeles, where the Volvo S60 is described as “100 real. Can’t say that about everything around here.” Digital marketing includes Facebook posts such as one featuring tiny Chihuahua in a sweater that says, “If your dog has a wardrobe, the Volvo S60 probably isn’t for you.” In another post, the brand claims “If your second private island is named after your third ex-wife, the Volvo S60 probably isn’t for you.”

Arnold’s digital role on the brand is new. Previously, Volvo’s digital and social efforts were handled by sister shop Havas Digital.
Tassos Panas, vp of marketing and product development at Volvo Cars North America, said the new work represented a shift for the company which in recent campaigns touted technology in its marketing.

“We want to start talking about our brand again and get people connected with it,” Panas explained. “As we move forward, we have a new pipeline of exciting products and we want to put the brand in the best health possible to give the products the best chance.”

That said, Volvo isn’t straying from its safety brand heritage. Consumer research, however, found that Volvo buyers also appreciate luxury on their own terms, see it as an experience and not just a badge and view design as a personal taste, favoring a Scandinavian modern esthetic.

Volvo says the Audi A4 is the most cross-shopped competitor to the Volvo S60 sedan. As part of the new effort, the automaker created aggressive "S60 Challenge" promotion that compares the two vehicles and makes the case for why the S60 is the better buy. Volvo will offer to make the first car payment on an A4 to anyone who buys one after test-driving the S60.