The Story Behind Volvo’s Epic Truck Commercials

How do you get 100 million + views on YouTube and 8 million shares for an advertising you posted? Ask Volvo. Back in 2010, Volvo made the game-changing decision when they decided to hire a Swedish advertising agency called Forsman & Bodenfors to be the leading advertising force of their new European range in 2012, the company’s first major launch in 20 years.

The now hugely famous agency created a series of short films that literally became viral in a very short time period and were described by one of the hottest contenders for honors at Cannes Lions 2014 as literally epic.

The Technician, The Ballerina, The Hamster, The Chase, the Hook and the latest The Epic Split are the six short movies created by the Swedish agency that lead Volvo to the highlights of its fame. So how were these movies created that put other famous advertising agencies to shame? To answer this question, first one must get familiarized with the agency’s construction.

Forsman & Bodenfors is a small Swedish advertising agency made of creative people, with no creative directors or executive creative directors; simply creative people, divided in teams that perform specialized tasks and work closely with their clients, focusing on what makes the client unique and emphasizing it. So when Volvo approached them asking for their services, they were quite surprised, thinking that they may be looking for a business to a business specialist. When Volvo’s representatives explained what they needed, the agency realized they needed to do something different.

The strategy the specialists created for making the movies relied heavily on two important factors:

  • The emotional connection truck drivers had with their trucks;
  • The number of people that participate in the truck buying decision: families, consultants, bosses, friends and so on.

Teams of creative specialists from the agency visited the company many times and made interviews with the employees and also with many users of the Volvo trucks. They concentrated on stories with high relevance to products and audience at the same time and also used multi-level storytelling to appeal to both general public and truck experts. Through this, the experts from the agency managed to isolate the most important qualities and features of the Volvo trucks and make them the central points of their advertising films.

All in all, the agency’s strategy could be described in two words: think big. Their latest movie “ The Epic Split” features Jan Claude Van Damme performing a split between two trucks in motion, demonstrating the truck’s stability and precision of the dynamic steering. If that doesn’t go viral on the Internet, what would?