By on November 29, 2016


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]

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