Volvo Cars Should Hire Volvo Trucks' Marketing Geniuses

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Do you remember the last Volvo commercial you saw? Or any Volvo commercial?

If the answer is “no,” you clearly haven’t seen the videos offered up by Volvo Trucks, which somehow manage to make 18-wheelers seem as alluring as a two-seat droptop. By staging stunts that compel viewers to seek out a heavy truck license, the company’s online videos have given the truck maker a strong media presence and plenty of word of mouth.

It’s too bad that Volvo Cars (long since snatched from under the Volvo Group corporate umbrella) can’t do the same thing.

The latest Volvo Trucks video features a paragliding stuntman towed by one of the company’s newest big rigs. To show off the performance of the vehicle’s I-Shift dual clutch transmission — which nearly eliminates torque loss under harsh driving conditions — the truck and “passenger” sail through the mountains of Croatia, dodging vehicles, cyclists and, at one point, a bridge.

The paraglider barks commands at the driver through a mic, pushing her to maintain certain speeds on the winding roadway so as to avoid an untidy demise.

Other entries in the company’s “Live Test” series show Volvo trucks punching through concrete buildings, high-centering themselves on a guardrail (check out that skid plate performance, everyone), fording deep water, suspending tight rope-walking ballerinas, and ferrying action star Jean-Claude Van Damme (on two trucks at the same time).

Contrast this with Volvo Cars, which finds itself at the beginning of a long-awaited American sales turnaround. No one can deny the new S90/V90 are attractive vehicles, but the ads seem to showcase the roads less traveled more than the vehicle on them. For some, that works. Sweden is stark and majestic, and sure, who doesn’t long for an adventure into the beautiful backcountry? There’s a romantic feeling to all of that.

Still, it’s hard not to think of the automaker’s brilliant 1960s commercials that focused solely on the car and its capabilities. That campaign, which featured one 121 Amazon being driven on a torturous rally-style commute (“drive it like you hate it”), helped introduce the model to a skeptical America.

Well, Volvo needs America to learn to love it all over again, so maybe it’s time to take a page from the no-longer-affiliated Volvo Trucks. That, or return to the marketing brilliance of the ’60s. Somehow.

[Image capture: Volvo Trucks/ YouTube]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Stuki Stuki on Nov 30, 2016

    In not too long, when CAFE has incrementally crept up to make all trucks smaller than class 8 too expensive, Volvo may just have a hit on it's hands in Texas if they stick a pickup bed on one of these..

    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Nov 30, 2016

      @stuki - International tried that. I've seen a few CXT's and MXT's. I'd love to own either one. There is a guy in my town with a restored B- Model Mack on a short wheel base. That would be my ultimate dream truck.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Nov 30, 2016

    I remember the one where they drive off a parking ramp so show how safe they are. That's about the only Volvo commercial I remember.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three