Why the Volvo Truck ad might be a miss

The world is abuzz with the latest Volvo truck commercial featuring an impressive stunt by Jean Claude Van Damme. In the commercial, Jean Claude Van Damme is seen pulling off a split between, wait for it, two Volvo trucks driven backwards.

Here’s an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal blog:

When Volvo began planning the launch of five new trucks 12 months ago, the creative team adopted a strategy of producing YouTube films that would create attention, and inform and entertain audiences, Vilhelmsson (Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager for the Volvo Trucks brand) said. That would pave the way for future advertising and sales campaigns in local markets.

With the Van Damme video, Volvo wanted to illustrate the new dynamic steering model in a spectacular way, and reach beyond traditional markets. “We need to target not only truck drivers, but future truck drivers. Young people who are facing a choice of a future career,” he said.

“We know the media landscape is changing,” he said. “We have different media consumption habits today than a couple years ago. So that is why we invest in this cost-efficient way of reaching out to millions of people online.”

Given the amount of publicity generated from the video, we know that it has successfully reached the objectives that Volvo has set for themselves, which was “reaching out to millions”.

But before we celebrate, we should question, is there a point to reach THAT many people in the first place? What about meeting the sales objectives? What can this viral video do to help increase sales worldwide?

Volvo sells about 250,000 trucks annually, worldwide. It is hardly a mass-market product, to begin with. They can’t sell a truck to 90% of the millions of people that watched the ad. Most truck drivers are not decision makers at transportation companies. And worst, truck drivers in Malaysia hardly use ANY form of social media.

Is the benefit shown in the video a compelling enough reason for the bosses in the logistics business to buy Volvo? Sure, the technology’s impressive, but will relying on this sole product differentiation cut it? Perhaps an event



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