My Favourite Campaign - Volvo, boring? Campaign that made us think again

Giles Ivey remembers Volvo’s unnerving ad for its S40 range, which was obviously a hoax – wasn't it?

I love it when an advertiser, usually not the biggest spender in the market, is brave enough to do something different.

I like it even more when it really pulls it off, so my favourite campaign of all time has to be Volvo's Dalaro campaign for its S40s.

In a market where the open road is obligatory and some classic soft rock anthem or this year's new tune is a must, you just don't go and make a "film" set in a small coastal town in Sweden.

Strange things are going on, in an X-Files kind of way. Thirty-two residents purchase Volvo S40s on the same day, from a dealership they claim never sells 32 vehicles in a year.

As with The Office before it, people intuitively knew it was a wind-up but, for just one moment, weren't sure.

And, just when you were 100% sure it was fake, a website appeared suggesting that its Venezuelan director, Carlos Sato, was fooled into making a documentary to give credence to something that just didn't happen.

Volvo, the mild-mannered manufacturer of the ultimate safe family car then tried to gag the Venezuelan. Not the usual behaviour we'd expect from the Swedes.

Most un-Volvo like. Could this really be true?

We all know the truth now, but, for a time, there was that hint of doubt. And that's when our perception of Volvo shifted. That's when this campaign achieved exactly what it sought to do, make us change our opinion.

The vast numbers of people discussing conspiracy-theories in chat rooms post-campaign, the column inches in newspapers, the viral activity that followed, were just the icing on the cake.

And let's not forget, it was a great-looking campaign, too. It stood out on TV, stunned cinema audiences and banners bought online, in news and documentary areas, were clicked on like they were going out of fashion.

Giles Ivey is director of sales, interactive marketing at AOL

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