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Volvo Intercepts Like A Pro

Who would you give a Volvo to?


Working in the automotive industry for 5 years, I’ve attended my fair share of conferences and summits. Most were brand-specific and contained confidential information that I can’t write about, but last month’s Automotive News Summit in NYC provided me with a different experience – one I can share. I got to hear from the marketing heads of Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen and BMW. While all very insightful, I was most intrigued by “safe car brand” Volvo and their SuperBowl “Intercept” campaign.

As we all know, the cost for a 30-second Super Bowl spot is astronomically expensive. Very few brands can afford to take advantage of this high-profile advertising experience that makes as much news as the game itself (and sometimes more). The next day, everyone from news anchors to coworkers talk about their favorite and least favorite Super Bowl ads. What’s usually not talked about are the ads that DON’T run during the SuperBowl.

During the summit lunchtime event, I found myself putting my fork down to focus attention on the intercept strategy that Volvo shared. In a nutshell, they stole the limelight directly from their competitors and spent only a quarter of the cost. The strategy was genius: give people something compelling to do during the commercials of other car companies. Instead of watching those commercials. But what could be compelling enough? A free car.

Volvo ran a promotion that asked people to tweet the name of a person they would put in a Volvo. The tweets had to be received while ads for other cars were on air. And the winner was chosen at the end of the big game. Within 4 hours, the Swedish car brand received 50,000 tweets.

The strategy was absolutely brilliant: intercept other brands and drive consumer engagement by forcing them to do something, not just sit there and watch. Rather than missing out on the biggest advertising day of the year due to limited budgets, Volvo used the situation to their advantage. It’s tactics like these that remind me why I love advertising: the nontraditional, out-of-the-box thinking that really inspires. I was delighted to hear about this innovative approach directly from the source, to gain an understanding of why they did what they did. Although conference/summit presentations sometimes have the reputation of being long and boring, this one was quite the opposite.


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