Epic Split Stunt - A Marketer's Dream

By Alexandra Mayhew

Well I'll be Dammed (bad pun intended)
The first thoughts that go through my head as the camera pans out and you realise the great Jean-Claude Van Damme is standing on the wing mirrors of two trucks.

This has to be CGI (Computer-generated imagery).
My thoughts as Van Damme proceeds to do the splits as the trucks separate.

They are going BACKWARD!
My next thoughts as the camera pans out and and Van Damme proceeds to do the splits on two reversing trucks.

To close the screen reads: This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering

That’s the best piece of marketing I’ve seen in quite some time.
And the statistics seem to back that thought up. Week one: 27million YouTube hits on the stunt video, nearly 2million YouTube hits on the teaser, hundreds of thousands of views of ‘the making of’ YouTube videos (which seem to disprove my theory it was CGI), social media abuzz, countless news articles from across the globe … one could claim an exceptionally successful campaign.

But what has made it so successful?
(Very) Generally speaking men love trucks. Statistically speaking, men undertake more risk-taking behaviour than women - and so a piece like this is going to sell well with them. What I think is truly impressive is that I as a woman am genuinely impressed. I think it’s the poetry of the piece (mixed to perfection with the danger): the Enya soundtrack, golden trucks glimmering in a Spanish sunset, and Van Damme’s deep Belgian voice overlayed "Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics. And a mindset to master the most epic of splits."

Are we the ones heading out to buy the Volvo truck (given the stunt was to promote Volvo’s dynamic steering system which it says greatly improves precision and stability in any driving situation)? Most likely not.  However the brand is fixed in my head when I think of this incredible piece. Connecting content and brand can be a challenge for any marketer, and Volvo seems to have achieved it here.

Will it improve the bottom-line?
Perhaps not directly. Most certainly not immediately. But it’s an excellent branding piece. Not to mention Volvo is tapping into an audience that is savvy at avoiding traditional advertising – the highly-desirable Millennials and Digital Generation (Gen Y and Gen Z). In using social media Volvo has started a conversation with young people who will go onto purchase their cars (and perhaps even drive their trucks) and made quite the impression.

Want to go viral?
Join the very, very long queue. This is one of the main requests I get from clients when it comes to digital campaigns. There is no winning formula, but here’s a key tip: don’t treat it like traditional advertising – get out of your box and that way of thinking; throw the brief out the window and run with a mad Creative’s idea.