Volvo’s viral playbook

When I say ‘Volvo’, what comes to your mind? If you live in Bengaluru, it could be the many Volvo air-conditioned town buses. Or, it could be Jean-Claude Van Damme!

Volvo made a global splash with the ‘epic split’ viral video, conceptualized and produced by the agency Forsman & Bodenfors. It was an outrageous and preposterous idea, that too for a B2B brand, but one that was firmly rooted specifically in the brand’s overall narrative and purpose.

Before and after ‘epic split’, Volvo has produced a lot of videos that have also gone viral in their own way. For comparison, ‘epic split’ has almost 100 million views on YouTube alone, till date, the highest among all of Volvo’s videos.

Other videos, like The Hamster Stunt, where a hamster drives a Volvo truck in a treacherous mountain path, has 8 million+ views. This came before the ‘epic split’.

Or, Look Who’s Driving feat. 4-year-old Sophie! This has 25 million+ views.

Or even The Flying Passenger. This video has 1.8 million+ views.

All these videos focus on the ease of use of Volvo trucks, the incredibly precise steering controls, stability, fuel efficiency among other aspects.

Some of these videos go more viral than others, but it is understandable why the ‘epic split’ went where no other Volvo video has gone. It combined star power with a phenomenally appropriate brand narrative. The star was used at the service of telling a great story about how good the stability and driving controls of their vehicle was. And it put the star in real danger, for the audience to fell the threat while watching!

Volvo’s latest stunt is a fantastic idea too (again, by the agency Forsman & Bodenfors). The new video was produced to demonstrate the power and strength of Volvo’s four new vehicles: Volvo FH, Volvo FH16, Volvo FM and Volvo FMX. Together, these four trucks will represent about two-thirds of Volvo Trucks’ deliveries in Europe. So, this is a big deal for the company.

So, what was the stunt idea? It was as preposterous and unimaginable as the ‘epic split’ – they stacked the 4 trucks one over the other, to form a tower of 4 trucks and drove it too!

Sounds incredible? Take a look at it yourself!

The behind-the-scenes video is even more exciting!

The human element of the video is Volvo Trucks’ president Roger Alm. Merely stacking 4 trucks one over the other and driving them together as a tower is, in itself, a massive feat. But Volvo added the human element in the form of their own company president, who stood on top of the topmost truck and traveled!

This is all absolutely stupefying and phenomenal, but having seen the ‘epic split’ video, I couldn’t help wondering if this needed more chutzpah and perhaps the same kind of star power as that epic video. My concern stems from the fact that not many people know who Roger Alm is and even after knowing him, since they don’t recognize him as someone relatable (he’s a stranger for most of us), him being put in such a perilous task doesn’t seem palpable as a fear for the audience.

I had half the mind to expect Roger Alm standing on the shoulders of Jean-Claude Van Damme, who is standing on top of the topmost truck 🙂 Now that would be a mind-boggling mix of both human and machine-led feats in one video, just like the ‘epic split’.

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