GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Volvo's first pan-European campaign - to be created by a tiny Swedish advertising agency - seeks to reassure parents that they can still be hip and drive a Volvo.
The launch advertising for the V70 wagon will run in 18 European markets. It is Volvo's largest-ever pan-European campaign, with a media spend of about A48 million.
The agency - Gothenburg-based Forsman & Bodenfors - was named a year ago as one of Volvo's two lead global agencies. New York-based Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer, part of Europe RSCG Worldwide, handles the account in North America.
The television campaign, with its tagline 'A different kind of family car,' broke in Sweden and Germany in early March. Later in the month it will air on international channels CNN International and Eurosport. The advertisements hit the UK in May and other markets thereafter.
The print campaign is already running in Time magazine and will run in various national publications. MindShare handles media buying.
The challenge for Volvo is to retain its leadership in large station wagons against new entrants in this segment. It must reinforce its longstanding safety message but at the same time use a more emotional appeal to attract new customers. Volvo is targeting people who might be attracted to the driving pleasures associated with a BMW 5 series Touring and Audi A6 Avant, or the prestige factor of a Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon.
One commercial draws attention to the performance of the V70's 250hp high-pressure turbo engine. A man slots some bread into a toaster only to discover he's out of margarine. He jumps into his V70, drives to the shop and returns with the spread before the toast pops up.
In another spot, a trendy trio move their heads to music while waiting at a stop light in a convertible. When the light changes, the car pulls off but the music continues - from a V70 parked on the other side of the street with its 10 speakers and Dolby Surround Sound.
'The two most important words (behind this campaign) are to provoke and confirm,' said Garry Rowley, Volvo's Brussels-based launch communications manager for Europe. 'We're trying to redefine the concept of the family car by provoking and confirming.
'For too many people the family wagon represents a dull choice. But the V70 is not a sacrifice in any respect. It combines high-level performance and state-of-the-art interior with traditional wagon versatility. It's a car for both individual and family pleasure.
'The advertisements also confirm all the things Volvo stood for - and still stands for.'
Although Forsman & Bodenfors doesn't have any offices outside Sweden, its work is known within the international advertising community. In the past two years, commercials created by Forsman & Bodenfors for Volvo's home market have won a gold and a bronze lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival.
Founded in 1986 and equally owned by 14 partners, the agency's other big Swedish clients include furniture retailer Ikea and some personal hygiene brands for paper products marketer SCA.
Europe RSCG's US campaign for the V70, which differs in execution but not in tone, has already broken in the USA. Those advertisements are likely to run in South America, while Forsman and Bodenfors' advertisements may run in Asia.
Two years ago Volvo used a global campaign to launch the range-topping S80. Rowley said another global approach is not ruled out, but added: 'To achieve the desired level of creative excellence and marketing success across a wide area in global terms is the exception, not the rule.'