How Sweden met The Atlantic…and delivered an award-winning campaign

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  • Volvo wanted to change perceptions and drive desirability for the brand
  • They became a channel partner of Sky Atlantic for a period of two years 
  • Volvo’s sponsorship is now the most recalled in its competitor set
  • A year in and the campaign continues to impact positively on Volvo’s Brand Metrics
  • Volvo significantly increased sales, almost three times that of market growth

Challenge

Volvo is a premium car brand but in 2013 they faced a significant challenge. It seemed that everyone knew that Volvo was a brand that placed emphasis on safety and so is a good family car. However, they had invested in eye-catching designs and were looking for clearer cut through in terms of relevance in the competitive car market. 

They wanted to change perceptions of the brand so that they were seen as not just safe but also cool, contemporary and cutting-edge. The objective therefore was to increase consideration by demonstrating the quality and innovation of the brand alongside its safety, environmental performance and distinctive Scandinavian design.

They needed to communicate the core benefits of the Volvo whilst driving spontaneous awareness and desire. They also wanted to give Volvo’s consideration longevity by creating a brand appeal ‘the brand for me’.

The TV Solution

They needed activity with high visibility that had the capacity to change people’s perceptions so TV was the obvious choice of medium to achieve the objectives. Volvo had long valued the benefit of sponsorship to engage consumers and so tasked their media agency Mindshare with finding the perfect property for them.

Mindshare recommended a partnership with Sky Atlantic. The values of this modern, distinctive channel with its premium award-winning content and upmarket car-savvy audience provided the perfect platform for communicating Volvo’s brand positioning. 

Volvo’s human centric brand values, that embody their premium products, needed to be articulated and in a way that wasn’t intrusive but actually added something to the enjoyment of the show. They created a tagline for the sponsorship credits “From Sweden, not Hollywood”. The idea was to take a key Hollywood filmic attribute and provide the Swedish/Volvo interpretation – beautifully natural, driven by the environment, simple, no clutter.   

Plan

The partnership began on 1st January 2014 and is a two year deal. Volvo is a channel partner and so has 60 seconds of sponsorship idents every hour around Sky Atlantic’s high profile programmes such as Game of Thrones, Fortitude, The GIRLS, Penny Dreadful and Mr Sloane. The longevity of the partnership allowed for some very clever and integrated activation. 

One way that Volvo extended the association off air was around the high profile red carpet premieres for some of the top Sky Atlantic shows. The activity included:

  • Volvo branding on invitations to Premieres 
  • A list talent arriving and departing in Sky Atlantic and show branded Volvos
  • Volvo banners at venues
  • Tickets to premieres for Volvo staff, customers, social team and bloggers
  • Volvo branding in talent press shots

In addition, they created special programme and channel promos that were played out in Volvo’s 107 dealerships. This included a competition, for employees or customers, to win Sky TV.

To communicate the partnership further, Volvo were able to exploit Sky’s third party relationships. This included:

  • Exclusive screening of The Knick for Volvo customers at Festival No.6
  • Co-branded photo-booths at the O2 Arena that gave people the opportunity to experience Fortitude, as well as a chance to win a trip to Sweden to see the Northern Lights
  • Bespoke sponsorship idents around 12 special screenings of Fortitude Episode 1 at the cinema, exclusively for Sun+ members. These idents also opened Sky Media’s special snow themed ad break with the premiere episode of the show
  • Volvo became the sponsor of the Game of Thrones Exhibition at the O2 
  • Competition in Thronecast for viewers to win A Game of Thrones branded Volvo V40 

The sponsorship was extended to include programmes that were accessed via Sky Go and On Demand and there was dedicated online content at Sky.com/Atlantic

Results

After just five months there had been significant uplifts in brand image scores for viewers who had seen the TV sponsorship. Volvo was seen as a more innovative, up-to-date and modern brand with an increased reputation for quality. There were also uplifts in brand metrics such as likeability, consideration and recommendation.

Vovlo case study chart

Most importantly of all, Volvo significantly increased sales, almost three times that of market growth. 

At Volvo we are delighted to have secured the opportunity to work with Sky Atlantic. The targeted reach and consistent frequency is driving understanding of the Volvo brand amongst a premium, conquest audience whilst showcasing our beautifully designed cars. We have done so much already with Sky and in the coming months look forward to even more integrated and exciting activation opportunities.

Kylee Rush, Brand and Launch Manager, Volvo Car UK

The alignment between Sky Atlantic and Volvo makes this sponsorship really special. The potential to evolve the assets is hugely exciting and the longevity that this partnership offers will enable this campaign to continue to grow over time.

Ross Minton, Head of Partnerships Mindshare

Databank

Sector: Motors 

Brand: Volvo 

Campaign objectives: To change perceptions of Volvo, to drive desirability through communicating brand attributes 

Target Audience: ABC1 Adults 

Budget: £5m+ 

Campaign Shape: The campaign began on 1st September 2014 and is scheduled to run for two years 

TV Usage: Channel sponsorship 

Creative Agency: Grey London 

Media Agency: Mindshare

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