Volvo Urging People Not To Watch the Super Bowl

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Volvo is taking a very unique approach to its advertising for the Super Bowl this year. Rather than simply have the network air its commercials during the breaks, it has decided to compete with the game directly for viewership.

Called “The Longest Drive,” the automaker’s smartphone game is reminiscent of dealer and radio contests where people have to keep their hands on the car to win it. The difference here is that Volvo is concerned with your eyes. Participants will compete to log the most amount of time looking at stock footage of the Volvo S60 in the hopes of claiming one as a prize.

Mercedes-Benz tried something similar last year with its digitized “Last Fan Standing” competition. In that contest, people were asked to keep their finger on a Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe as the company monitored their cell phone, waiting for them to make a mistake. Unfortunately, mistakes were made long before the contest began.

Prior to kickoff, technical difficulties caused a delay. Mercedes never managed to sort out the problem and ended up turning the game into a random drawing to appease disgruntled contestants.

Volvo’s contest is similar in concept, but not execution. Rather than keeping your digit pressed into the phone as you pray for the other players to magically fall asleep, Volvo wants you to keep your eyes on the screen while it runs b-roll of the S60 sedan. Presumably, one can still blink, but take your eyes off the screen for a second and you’ll be kicking yourself for every microsecond lost to another player.

Framed as a virtual test drive, the game uses facial recognition technology to lock onto a person’s face and detect when the person’s eyes are no longer directed at the screen. In marketing materials provided by the automaker, the actor hired to portray the contestant has a huge smile on their face, but this actually seems torturous. Volvo is basically asking you to voluntarily participate in the advertising equivalent of the “aversion therapy” featured in A Clockwork Orange.

The three people to hold out the longest will be crowned the victors. However, there’s a not-so-minor catch. Participants aren’t really competing for the S60. Instead, they’re fighting for the opportunity to receive a two-year subscription to Care by Volvo, which includes access to a new S60 Momentum and routine maintenance and insurance, but requires you to give the car back after 24 months.

“Volvo first made waves on football’s biggest night in 2015 with our interception campaign, asking people to nominate who should get a new Volvo on Twitter whenever a car commercial played,” said Bob Jacobs, VP of Marketing, Brand and Communications, Volvo Car USA. “This campaign is an iteration on that. The Volvo S60 symbolizes the belief that you should follow no one and focus on what you think is best. At Volvo, we feel that this approach is better than just running a television commercial, it brings more excitement and engagement to our fans.”

Terms and conditions apply, of course. Volvo says you must be at least 18 and possess a valid driver’s license to be eligible to claim the prize. But you also might want to hit up S60LongestDrive.com to see if your phone has the necessary equipment with which to play. Considering everything the contest entails, would you really want to?

[Images: Volvo Cars]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Jan 30, 2019

    What's second prize? Two Volvos?

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Jan 31, 2019

    I won't be watching anyway; all the commercials have gone to crap and nothing is fun anymore with all the SJWs waiting to be offended.

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.
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