If I was advising Volvo….

Say what you will about the new television commercials from Volkswagen, but they made me stop in my tracks and think, wow!

The Crispin Porter Bogusky spots are the buzz of the advertising industry right now, and deservedly so. They depict a couple of people having a seemingly benign conversation inside a VW when, bam, they get sideswiped and a major accident occurs. For a moment, you have no idea if the people survive or not. Your mind immediately asks, "Was that for real?" Then, as the damaged VW sits in an intersection bashed, bruised and boiling over, the scene is immediately followed by the VW logo and two words: "Safe happens."

This is indeed the real deal. Crispin apparently used stunt drivers and real VW’s to make the accidents happen in real time and at real speeds. And the viewer feels like he’s right there. Talk about rubber-necking delays!

While the ad guys are deep in debate as to whether Crispin/VW have gone too far with their reality programming, I’m not seeing much buzz about the impact of these VW safety spots on Volvo, which for years has "owned" safety as a brand promise.

If I was counseling Volvo, I’d tell them not to take this head-on branding collision lying down. I’d re-assert my "safety" leadership in any number of smart, aggressive marketing ways. I’d begin by issuing safe driving tips for the upcoming Summer travel season. I’d create a safety hall of fame and enshrine those Volvo drivers who’ve never had an accident in all the years they’ve been behind the wheel (and, hopefully not tempt fate in the process). I’d create a "safest places" survey and have consumers identify where they feel safest (i.e. America’s safest city, safest college campus, safest highways and byways, etc.). You get the point.

Now is not the time for the Volvo brand to stay in neutral. American consumers are notoriously fickle and this Crispin spot is one of the most compelling advertisements I’ve seen in a long time. I know that if I were to buy a car for my teenage daughter right now, I’d be looking to get her the safest car possible. Before the Crispin ad, my list would have been limited to Volvo and Saab. Now it would have to include VW as well.

11 thoughts on “If I was advising Volvo….

  1. rep-
    i got the point of the blog, made sense. but teddy didn’t, nor did most of the other responses as they didn’t focus on your point. my point was that many of your responses come back as “you missed the point” when in fact it may not be the case. if someone responds to an idea made in the blog, however small that point may have been to you, they may in deed choose to respond to it. that said, they aren’t missing the point, they are making a different point.
    ps- loved the clothing blog. certainly brought back some fun memories. i think a follow up blog would be interesting on where those 3 are now.

  2. bev, or shall i call you pr moron (i mean maven) as per your email address…
    as the repman likes to say “any pr pro worth her salt” would take a few seconds to research a subject before making such a comment. independent experts rated the vw, whereas the volvo is no where to be found on the list. this is a case where they dont want to be in the same league as volvo. you might want to retake PR 101 again for media training and research skills.

  3. gauze boy, are you using those syringes to inject some illegal narcotics into your bloodstream? The blog was simple and straightforward. It said Volvo should wake up and pay attention to VW’s encroaching on its “safety” turf. What’s so difficult to grasp? Check out the flip-flop blog. I think that might have more relevance for you.

  4. seems like me and teddy (and briz and bev)are in the same boat in that we miss the point the repman is trying to bang home. i wonder people keep missing the points of the blog???

  5. Bev,
    I’m not sure what you mean. Please refer to Andrew’s post. Why is VW being arrogant with their ad? They should be marketing the fact that they won all these safety awards. Before you knock VW, do your homework. They actually are producing a pretty good product right now.
    I will defer to the automobile experts who are evaluating the safety of these cars. People too often on blogs make uninformed comments about a brand or company without doing their research and knowing the facts.
    Sorry you hit a soft spot. I just bought two VW’s.

  6. I think it is mildly arrogant of VW to imply that their safety standards are, or ever could be, in the same league as Volvo. It’s a fabulous spot no doubt, but would be better served if Mercedes or BMW was the brand being promoted.

  7. Amen, Andrew. Looks like Teddy is behind the times as usual. Ted: better trade in that Volvo and get something that will protect you and your fellow Birkhahn’s. As for our friends at Volvo, they need to start building safer cars and promoting the fact. In the meantime, looks like they’ll have to fight a rearguard action to defend whatever equity they’ve built up until now in the safety “space.”

  8. Interesting Bray. Ted, in case you can’t access the link, it talks about how the Jetta was one of the top choices in the Insurance Institute’s safety tests this year. VW is walking the talk. No Volvo’s made the list.
    RepMan, sounds to me like Volvo needs to focus on earning better safety ratings vs. issuing safety tips and surveys.

  9. Ludacris, are you suffering from jet lag? I was focusing more on Volvo’s need to be aggressive in its response to VW. One commercial may not do it for you, but it speaks for itself and proves the VW’s are durable as hell. As you know from your office furniture experience, target audiences will form their own decisions if organizations don’t try to counteract false or misleading statements. The gist of my blog is not about the safety of VW cars. It’s about the need for Volvo to launch a counteroffensive. Better grab some sleep.

  10. I’m surprised you would realy add VW to your list of safe cars based on this one commercial. It’s a great spot, no doubt, but it doesn’t convince me that VW is anywhere close to Volvo in the safety market. Before I get there, VW needs to go beyond a provocative 30 second spot and show me it has corrected many of the issues its cars have been plagued with over the years. It also has to show me how it really stacks up from a safety standpoint against Volvo and some of the industry’s leaders in safety.
    So, if I were advising VW, I would be telling them to go way beyond a mere advertisement to educate the consumer why and how they are gaining traction in safety. They need to show consumers how they’re innovating to provide new and advanced safety features for me and my family.
    Until then, I’ll stick with my Volvos.