Volvo Really Takes the Plunge in Powerful Ad That Leaves the Car on Shore

Grey London's 'The Swell'

In its first global campaign for Volvo, Grey London strives for a "quietly epic" tone to position the Swedish nameplate more firmly in the premium auto space. Director Marcus Söderlund, working through Academy Films, delivers the goods with a visually compelling minute-long film called The Swell.

We open on a moonlit beach, where a Volvo XC60 sits in the sand, the hum of its radio melding with the sounds of the sea. "To feel, to really feel, is a rare thing these days," a voiceover says. We watch a woman paddle her surfboard through dark, choppy water as a huge wave rises with thunderous force … and the tagline, "Seek feeling," flashes on screen.

The Swell weaves its tale in moody hues, offering glimpses of the car as it focuses on the lonely surfer and approaching wave. (Söderlund also directed Grey London's fiery Vodafone ad about emergency responders.)

It's an unexpected approach, and the first campaign from global creative director Hollie Newton, who joined Grey last year from Wieden + Kennedy, where she contributed to award-winning efforts for Lurpak butter. For Lurpak, she designed sensory experiences with cheeky, playful subtexts that reminded viewers not to take the ads too seriously.

The Swell shares this "sensory" sensibility, but ratchets up the intensity to a point where I imagine some viewers might be put off. Even so, Grey deserves credit for making a commercial that ripples with energy without drowning in car-ad clichés.

Credits below.


Client: Volvo

Vice President, Brand Marketing: Tomás Caetano

Marketing Communication Director: Ingela D'Angelo

Marketing Content Director: Magnus Brodd

Project Leader: Anna Wirsen

Spot: The Swell

Agency: Grey, London

Executive Creative Director: Nils Leonard

Global Creative Director: Hollie Newton

Creative Team: Hollie Newton, Jamie Starbuck, Howard Green

Managing Partner: Nick Dutton

Business Director: Camilla Ashenhurst

Account Manager: Mel Caplan

Agency Producer: Harriette Larder

Creative Producer: Glen McLeod

Planning Director: Matt Buttrick

Planner: Hayley Cannon

Production Company: Academy Films

Director: Marcus Söderlund

Editor: Tom Lindsay, Trim

Producer: Medb Riordan

Executive Producer: Lizie Gower

Directors of Photography: André Chémétoff, Allan “Willy” Wilson

Colorist: Aubrey Woodiwiss

Postproduction: Yourick Van Impe, Aubrey Woodiwiss, Electric Theatre Collective

Audio Postproduction: Aaron Reynolds, Wave

Photographer: Gian Paul Lozza