Posted by: aruiz1101 | November 19, 2007

Volvo. for Life™

             The Volvo marketing campaign for their vehicles is one that distinguishes it from its competitors’. The Volvo campaign focuses on safety over all other features; whereas the competitors often point out new features, such as paddle shifters, or all wheel drive. In addition to safety they also emphasize family unity in the advertisements. These advertisements range from commercials to magazines ads, and the company’s website. The name Volvo is synonomous with safety and comfort; those thoughts are the goals of their marketing campaign. The reputation Volvo has built is the difference between them and all other car companies.When first viewing a Volvo commercial, it instills a relaxing mood. The feeling of relaxation is from the use of vacations, and exotic scenes where the Volvo is being driven. This small detail is what they build their advertising campaign on. Along with the vacation sites, they often show scenes of families together, or even a young child in a back seat. This creates a sense of responsibility to the viewer, allowing them to pay extra attention to Volvo’s dedication to safety, and quality. This has been evident since Volvo’s inception in 1927.

               Their dedication to safety stems from the founder’s philosophy on what a car should be; this is stated in an article on the history of Volvo “the company was formed on a background of quality and safety which were both of paramount importance, a concept that still applies to the Volvo cars today” (“Volvo Owner’s Club”). The video said the car is made and operated by humans therefore the primary concern in making a car is going to be safety. Their relentless effort to promote safety in motor vehicles has given them customer loyalty that can last a life time, or for future generations. In an advertisement that was taken from a magazine, a family of four is standing at the base of an enormous waterfall. Behind them is the new Volvo XC70 SUV. This picture depicts a family vacation. The family has driven the Volvo to the base of a waterfall and has  arrived there safely. Near the bottom of the picture is a line stating “Life is Better Lived Together”, this slogan can be analyzed in many ways, and all of which lead to two basic themes, family unity and protection of life. The promotion of road trip vacations with the family is the main idea of this particular advertisement. The main causes of a family not taking a road trip are the cost of gas, length of time, but above all the danger in driving for an extended period of time. This ad promotes the safety, versatility, and quality of the SUV. The slogan “Volvo. for life” is ingenious when the image they are trying to portray is taken into thought. The first way to interpret the slogan tells you that because of the quality of this automobile it will last a lifetime. The second interpretation is almost like an opinion on a political issue, Volvo is for life; they care for and support it by protecting it.


           The dedication of Volvo to safety inevitably extends to a perception of family unity in their advertisements. The safe reputation and history of quality attracts a large market. The enormity of the market is what keeps Volvo at the top in research and development of safety features. The market ranges from young newlyweds trying to start a family, parents looking for a reliable safe car to purchase for their teenager, to elderly people wanting to have a car to keep them safe on the road. The critical issue with cars is safety and Volvo is one of the few companies to realize it.


           The Volvo company website shows obvious dedication to safety and family unity. This can range from the opening picture of the site. One Volvo is parked in the garage with the mother of the family standing behind it and the father is pulling into the driveway from work and shines his lights on the wife. This is what the company wants the public eye to see, a “Volvo Family”. They are concentrating on family unity and how the safety of their vehicles will lead to a happier and healthier family. When you enter the American site for Volvo, the options are to choose a car and see the specifications and features of the car. When done so, having viewed competitor’s websites the difference is evident down to the smallest detail. The competitor’s website has options to view details of the car, such as (in this order) performance, paddle shifters, versatility, interior, technology, and safety (“2008 Nissan Rogue SUV”). On the other hand, Volvo’s list of features is arranged (in this order) safety, design, performance, and environment. Even the minor details like the order of the links can show a customer the priority of a company. Inside of the safety portion of Volvo’s XC70 webpage a few interesting things are mentioned. One rare feature is a built-in child booster seat in the rear seat. This is another great example of how Volvo is promoting their diversity from other car companies in providing a family based car. An additional safety feature that is incorporated in the vehicle is a lockable in-floor storage compartment to prevent break-ins by storing purses, or other valuables that can be seen from the outside.(“The All-New Volvo XC90”)


 The marketing campaign promotes family vacations and unity. Though it may not be a primary goal for the marketing strategy, it is definitely a factor. An example is that of a young married couple who had been planning on having their first child, decided to hold off for a couple of years to save up money so they can purchase a Volvo to keep their child safe.


           This commercial shows how the American public is viewing the company as a whole. They show scenes in the beginning of all of the countless cars that have gone through safety test after safety test until it was up to the standards of the Volvo Company. Then it shows a beautiful day outside and a mother with a child in the back driving on country roads. This shows the reward for all of those Volvos seen in the crash test to protect a family just like the one shown. This commercial, combined with the music, taps into the sentimental side and allows you to begin to think about the risk of being in a car and buying from a company that is not as devoted to your protection as they are. This commercial shows the process of a vehicle from beginning to end and lets the public appreciate Volvo’ dedication to safety standards. The commercial below is a 1992 Volvo commercial that mentions many safety facts about the car, and how the car was tested.             The following commercial is for Nissan’s brand new Rogue SUV. This commercial is giving the first impression to the American public. Notice how the entire commercial is in the city, they also seem to emphasize speed by repeatedly showing the wheels spinning and the road passing by, they also show the new paddle shifters which seems to be their basis for attracting people. Overall the commercial is very dark and gives off a very serious mood. An additional observation is, the commercial was edited to play faster than normal speed. This video trick adds to their advertisement of speed. The use of the fast pace music in the background does not allow the viewer to notice that the video is in fast-forward. When the camera is showing the interior of the Rogue it seems to move back to a slower normal paced play speed. (Click on the link to view commercial)

Crash Testing         

          The crash test is a very expensive way to measure the level of safety and quality a particular vehicle may have. This type of testing allows for many innovative products to be made, according to an article on the history of Volvo “Innovations in safety and environmental care continued apace with crumple zones, rear facing child seats, collapseable steering columns, side collision protection, and the 3-way catalytic converter all being introduced by Volvo in the 1960’s” (“Volvo Owner’s Club”). The crash tests that follow, are that of an Infiniti G35 and a Volvo S80 at 40 mile per hour. Each video has certain things to look for that can display the differences in the quality of the car. The key to looking at these is to ignore the actual damage. What should be observed is the cars overall response to the impact as a whole. Take notice of the Infiniti, the instant the front bumper made contact with the concrete slab the rear fender caved in, and eventually folded slightly. This means that the energy from the impact passed through the entire car and was absorbed in the back, as well as the doors and top. This absorption of energy is passed through the interior of the car and the passengers.

If you were to look at the Volvo crash test the absorption of the energy upon impact is completely done by the forward section of the car. The Volvos are built similar to Indy cars where everything absorbs the impact except the cockpit, in the Volvo the entire front is designed to take the impact and compact it to that area.

This second crash test is from a similar model of the one before, although it is not in slow motion it can be noticed that the impact is absorbed in the front of the car. The quick impact shows how much better the crash was than the Infiniti G35’s crash test.

The video below is of a Volvo XC90 in a rollover test. This rollover test is to see how the car responds to multiple flips on the road. The key again is to notice the core of the vehicle and its stability throughout the crash. The actual measurement that is going to be taken is how well the supporting pillars of the roof, hold in a dynamic crash.

             The slow-motion view of the roof drop is probably the most conclusive view of the rollover test. Rollover accidents are the most dangerous accidents on the road. This view of the roof hitting the floor shows tremendous durability of the supporting pillars of the roof.    

In conclusion the Volvo advertising campaign was very interesting to analyze, in that they used one main theme and branched it to connect to others, such as family and quality. Their emphasis on safety and the relaxing tone of the commercials separates them from the competition. A Volvo official was quoted describing a car in the mid 1950’s saying “Safety features and accident protection were a key factor in this cars design… equipped with three-point safety belts- a world first, powered by our head of safety engineering, Nils Bohlin” (“Volvo Owner’s Club”). The goal of Volvo is not just to make the cars we drive today safe; but to make the cars we drive tomorrow safer.

By: Andre F. Ruiz

      ENC 1101