By on January 30, 2019

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]

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