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News Plus 8 Jun 2021 - 2 min read

Electric shock: Volvo’s climate crisis ad drives ‘huge spike’ in dealer inquiries, web traffic... and doesn’t even feature car

By Brendan Coyne - Editor
Volvo Change is the ultimate safety test

Big splash: Volvo's campaign and pivot is already driving major results.

Volvo's campaign to promote its strategic shift to electric vehicles and safety of the planet as well as its cars has delivered a "huge spike" in inquiries to dealers and web traffic, according to Marketing Director Julie Hutchinson. Who said marketers can't land ESG (environmental social and governance) messaging?

What you need to know:

  • Volvo's ad campaign to reposition the brand as part of the solution to climate change does not promote its cars.
  • Yet it has driven a 23 per cent spike in dealer inquiries and a surge in web traffic.
  • Marketing boss Julie Hutchinson thinks electric vehicle sales may spike sooner than people think. 

Dealers were saying 'we’ve never seen such a huge increase, what are you doing?'

Julie Hutchinson, Marketing Director, Volvo

Volvo’s latest ad campaign has led to dealers calling head office to ask what’s going on. Across the board dealer inquiries jumped 23 per cent in May versus the previous three-month average.

The ad, which pushes Volvo’s commitment to go all-electric by 2030, doesn’t even feature a car. While an electric version of its existing XC40 is due locally before the year end, Volvo’s C40 Recharge, the carmaker’s first ever all-electric model, is not scheduled to launch in Australia until late 2022.

That lead time gives the brand plenty of time to build awareness around its core repositioning of safety – that of the planet, rather than solely the safety of its cars.

It also provides some scope for Australia’s EV charging infrastructure to catch-up with other developed economies, with Victoria likely to lead the charge after committing to halve emissions by 2030. Currently NSW has more public chargers.

Strategic shift

While a more strategic public-private charging infrastructure rollout will likely be required to reduce overall costs and concerns around range anxiety, Volvo marketing boss Julie Hutchinson thinks the Australian EV market is set for significant growth either way – with latent demand higher than some predict.

The May spike in dealer inquiries underlines that view, and runs counter to suggestions that brand marketers are failing to cut through with environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) messaging.

The campaign launched digitally across sites such as The Guardian and the BBC, as well as social media, with broadcast media following. This week Volvo will add out of home to the media mix.

Volvo simultaneously launched a retail campaign, which led to a marked increase in web traffic from mid-April. “Dealers were saying ‘we’ve never seen such a huge increase, what are you doing?’” Hutchinson told Mi3. “It shows the magic of both ends of the funnel working together.”

Hutchinson is unaware of any recent ad from a carmaker that does not feature a car. Its “bold statement” is intended to drive home the fundamental shift Volvo is attempting to make, she added.

“We don’t shy away from being part of the problem – and if you go deeper on the website we admit we, as carmakers, have caused a lot of them. And we don't see ourselves as any better than anyone else. But Volvo is trying to be part of the solution. We see the way forward as making a wholesale change, hence going all-electric faster than other brands,” said Hutchinson.

“Carmakers have to make a decision. You can’t be half in, half out.”

Mi3 Special Report: Australia's looming $1bn retailer media market

  • Australia's retailers are gearing up to become major media channels.
  • US retailers are already displacing 'legacy' publishers.
  • All retailers are eyeing media, not just supermarkets and FMCG.
  • Mi3 supported by Resolution Digital have produced a 28-page report with cross-industry views on what you need to know.

Expert analysis & market impacts for brands, publishers and agencies.

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