You've probably seen this epic commercial. At the time of this posting, it has gotten 64 million hits...... Volvo Trucks - The Epic Split feat. Van Damme (Live Test 6)
Yea yea... another karate demo.
Once upon a time - when I first started studying and later when I first started teaching - karate demonstrations were a big deal. I've done my share of them - one of which made national television at the halftime of a UVa ACC basketball game. Most are really bad, but some are quite good. I did my share of murdering lumber (mostly broken over me) and the odd athletic feat. But my personal style was to make karate appear interesting and approachable. It worked for me. I "sold" our club at UVa through our occasional demonstrations, and I have a gaggle of students through my life to show for it.
But do karate demos still bring home the bacon? If you're Jean Claud Van Damme, apparently so.
Wall Street Journal wrote:
December 18, 2013, 12:28 PM.
The Van Damme Dividend? Volvo Truck Sales Rise 31%
Volvo Truck continued to report healthy demand last month for its core Volvo brand of heavy vehicles Wednesday even as its other brands stagnated, but it is unclear at this point if the company’s recent round of attention-grabbing YouTube ads is having much to do with its success.
The company is in the midst of a major product assault, launching new trucks with improved technology. In addition, many truck buyers in Europe, Volvo’s biggest market, are purchasing trucks now rather than delay until 2014, when stricter European emissions laws take hold.
Volvo Truck, one of four wholly owned truck brands in the Volvo Group, delivered 31% more trucks in November than it did in the prior year, representing a sizable gain for a company selling high-dollar goods in economic times that remain challenging. Deliveries for the group’s Mack, Renault and UD truck brands remained largely flat compared with last year.
Volvo Trucks, which accounts for about 60% of the Group’s total deliveries, launched five new Volvo-branded truck models during the last year and in mid-November it released a wildly popular advertisement on YouTube featuring actor Jean-Claude Van Damme appearing to perform a split between two moving trucks.
While the YouTube spot featuring Mr. Van Damme was by far the most popular of the firm’s Volvo creations — attracting awards and more than 60 million viewers — it was the sixth in a series of commercials meant to tout new technologies.
The first online spot showed a ballerina walking on a rope between two driving trucks. Others featured a hamster steering a truck up a hill and the CEO of Volvo Trucks standing on top of an FMX construction truck hoisted 20 meters above the water in Gothenburg harbor.
The goal was to get the general public talking about a brand that sells to a relatively narrow pocket of consumers. Heavy-truck volumes represent only a fraction of what is sold in the automobile industry, but Volvo Trucks (not affiliated with the car company sharing the name), said truck buyers want to purchase vehicles seen as innovative.
“Image is very important for our customers” said Anders Vilhelmsson, public relations manager at Volvo Trucks. He said Volvo Trucks wants to be associated with innovation seeing as customers are looking for new technology that can help them earn money.
The Volvo Group said that all though the commercial has attracted a massive amount of attention, it is still too early to say what sort of impact it has had on its customers. Instead it names a pre-buy effect ahead of more stringent emission regulations, which take effect in January, as the main reason behind the up-tick in November deliveries.
Enthusiasm about the new trucks come at a critical time for Volvo, as it is trying to juggle parallel production both old and new generations of trucks. The process hinders the productivity at assembly plants, which can lead to a big drag on the bottom line.
As Volvo retooled its portfolio for better performance, including better steering, faster breaking and improved efficiency, the company tapped Gothenburg, Sweden-based Forsman & Bodenfors to create a cost-effective approach to grabbing attention.
The firm has done work for a variety of brands meant to appeal to wider audiences, ranging from app developers to alcohol distributors to car makers. Swedish icons as big as IKEA have relied on Forsman & Bodenfors to create advertisements.
Volvo’s advertising agency decided to go behind the target customer. “Reaching people outside of the target group and getting them to talk about the brand is an effective way of impacting the primary target group,” Olle Victorin, partner at Forsman & Bodenfors, said in an interview.
Mr. Vilhelmsson, the Volvo spokesman, said the ads accomplished the goal of getting wider attention than is typical for a truck maker. He notes that he received an email from a father in the U.K. who attached a picture of his son’s toy trucks with a Star Wars action figure in a split between them.
Sophia Lindholm, one of the creators of the Volvo Truck commercials, said the films are all created around specific features in the Volvo trucks. In the case of “Epic Split,” the firm wanted to tout Volvo Dynamic Steering- an electronically controlled electric motor that is adjusted around 2,000 times per second to create highly precise steering.
”We came up with the idea of a split and realized there was only one person how could credibly do this,” she said.