Social Marketing Innovation: Volvo

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Traditionally, the 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl has been the gilded standard for advertisers. But marketers at Volvo know that coveted spot is extending to the second screen—the mobile devices viewers are using to engage in the event and with friends.  “Volvo couldn't afford to spend $4.5 million on a Super Bowl TV spot, but still wanted to be a part of the conversation,” says Amol Rana, account director of activation at agency Grey, which crafted a second-screen strategy for the carmaker. “So, we turned the attention to Twitter, where the conversation was already happening online, which was proven by the fact that the previous year's Super Bowl was the most tweeted live event in history.”

Marketers at Volvo decided do two things for its 2015 social marketing campaign for the Super Bowl: The first was to focus on the people who matter most to consumers, rather than run pricey car commercials that highlight what's important to the company. The second was to create conversation that tapped into and was fueled by the Super Bowl hype but created a dialogue that infused talk of the brand and its next generation of cars.

Volvo turned to Grey New York to implement a social contest entitled “The Greatest Interception Ever.” The concept was simple:  Volvo asked viewers of the Super Bowl to tweet using the hashtag #VolvoContest and say who they think should get a Volvo XC90 and why. Tweeters could win one of five new Volvo trucks. But there was a catch: Viewers had to tweet the hashtag and their pitch whenever a competitor's car commercial aired during the Super Bowl, taking away attention from the competitors' messages, drawing attention to the Volvo brand, and sparking conversation around the next generation of vehicles at Volvo. The guerrilla marketing move stole some of the thunder from those $4.5 million Super Bowl TV ads and rode the excitement and attention centered on the big event.

Volvo sent auto-responses to respondent tweeters so they could finish their entries and accept the terms and conditions of the contest.

Rana says the results were astounding. “We exceeded all of the sales targets and metrics for this campaign,” he says. “The campaign resulted in accelerated growth during the month of February with the highest sales lift of any vehicle in Volvo's segment.” Volvo saw a nearly 71% YOY increase in XC60 sales in the month of February.  About 20,000 social media users tweeted #VolvoContest more than 56,000 times during the game, causing Volvo to trend three times nationally and globally. More than 10,000 users completed contest entries, and 5,000 new consumers opted in to receive communications from Volvo.

“The idea itself was simple and effective but truly innovative,” Rana says. “Volvo is a brand that places people first. This campaign leveraged that brand ethos by inviting consumers to behave in a way that brought the focus on people to life. Consumers weren't entering to win a Volvo for themselves; rather they were nominating a deserving person.”

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