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Eclipse of the Century is a Co-Branding Opportunity

An eclipse is not the word people usually think of in connection with marketing goals, as it seems to be the antithesis of gaining the spotlight. But when an eclipse is a highly anticipated event, as the one taking place on August 21 this year, it makes sense to seek out some brand association with a nearly universally trending topic.

Eclipse of the Century is the somewhat pretentious name given to the event, and to the site dedicated to its coverage that is brought to you by CNN and Volvo. At the end of July the car maker announced the partnership for “a unique editorial and branded content campaign.”

The content will be delivered through CNN channels, including its app for IOS and the designated site. The content currently posted on the site includes a countdown clock to the eclipse, and a map of its anticipated journey east and south across the country, from Oregon to South Carolina. One can also find eclipse information, links to an article with directions of where and how to view the eclipse, and an introduction to “eclipse chasers.”

Those of us who are not in that category still don’t have to miss out on this particular event “of the century.” We can also marvel at the eclipse in real time, thanks to advanced capture technology, including 4K VR and 360° cameras strategically placed around the country to capture the eclipse’s journey that CNNVR will broadcast live.  Showcasing what the technology allows us to do is the idea behind the partnership.

Bob Jacobs, VP of marketing, product and brand communication, Volvo Car USA, said in an announcement: “It’s amazing to think that when the last solar eclipse crossed the United States coast-to-coast, an artist’s painting or perhaps a photograph was the best way to share it. Thanks to Volvo, CNN and emerging technology, people can experience the eclipse as if they are there.”

To remind people of the Volvo brand’s part in this, “four of the live-streams will feature branded content for Volvo and integrate 2018 Volvo XC60s specially outfitted with advanced 360° cameras.” The locations are identified as Snake River, ID; Beatrice, NE; Blackwell, MO; and Charleston, NC. The cities and the “eclipse enthusiasts” to be stationed at each one are identified on a map on Volvo’s own eclipse site, Racing the Sun.

The site explains the rationale behind tying the Volvo brand to the eclipse: “To make history, look to the future. In order to provide an extraordinary view of the total solar eclipse, the next-generation Volvo XC60 is racing the sun across the country.” Those of us not actually racing can also benefit from having “a futurist front row to this historic event” brought to us by the CNN coverage.

It’s that association with a sense of history and advanced technology that Volvo is going for. As Jacobs said in the Volvo announcement, “Volvo’s first 360° camera was introduced in the award-winning XC90, and it will be among the best-in-class in the all-new XC60.” Accordingly, “We felt a 360° view of the eclipse was a great way to celebrate this feature.”

Interestingly, the announcement concedes that the cameras on the cars are not the same as the ones involved in streaming the eclipse.  The connection drawn is calculated to show “the synergy” involved rather than technical specificity.

That kind of association is what allows Volvo to link following the eclipse with its own pursuit of technological advancement, and with the title that appears in Racing the Sun: “Driven by What’s Next.” In that context, an eclipse is its own kind of spotlight on marketing.


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