Every so often a video will get passed around the office and kill team productivity for the next half hour. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are crazy . In the case of Volvo’s recent campaign, it’s simply because what their doing is so damn good.
The above video, featuring JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME DOING THE SPLITS ON TOP OF TWO VOLVO TRUCKS, is part of a series promoting the company’s new line of trucks. They are all well-executed spots, featuring live stunt work and no trick filming as a compelling premise, but the JVD video takes the cake for a couple of reasons.
I have written in the past about the different types of objectives marketing videos can have depending on where they are in the sales cycle. Each of Volvo’s promotional videos are firmly in the awareness phase, designed to attract customer interest.
The JCVD video works so well because it synthesizes multiple techniques to achieve this objective. It is beautifully shot and features a dramatic stunt (shot in one take no less!) to grab your attention. This stunt is used to reinforce a dual narrative for JCVD’s career and skill set that mirrors the hard work and craftsmanship required to manufacture large vehicles that can move together in reverse.
The most important part, however, is the revelation that the video is a demonstration of Volvo’s Dynamic Steering (VDS) system. Volvo smartly choose show the product feature in action rather than explain it, and was able to choose deliver the most compelling demonstration possible (I’m not exaggerating. In this article profiling how the commercial is shot it is revealed that the concept for the video comes after realizing that only the VDS makes driving a 20 tonne truck at high speeds in reverse even possible). Volvo sets the hook and captures the viewer’s attention in the first half of the video – it is the second half that they reel them to the next stage of the sales cycle.
The above is a classic ‘explainer’ video, ostensibly detailing how the VDS system works. It’s informative fare aimed to educate those who need to know as much as they possibly can before purchasing a $100,000 truck. But take a look at the comments on the video.
“Van Damme brought me here.” Volvo was so successful in the awareness stage that they have driven a much wider audience than their intended customer base to the next phase in the sales cycle. This will likely not lead to an increase in sales in the short term, but it will dramatically improve their brand awareness. Like many of the YouTube commenters, I don’t even know how to drive one of these trucks let alone have a reason to purchase one – but if you were to ask me which company makes the best long haul trucks in the business I would immediately say Volvo and reference the VDS system before going on a tangent about my favourite van Damme movie (Universal Soldier…obviously).
Volvo was smart enough to split their marketing objectives and keep their keep their videos focused on one task. Because of this, they were able to achieve those objectives with a perfection that would make JCVD dance with joy.