The ad features Zlatan in a classic Swedish landscape with a voice-over by Zlatan quoting the national anthem.
Whether you like the ad or not, Volvo sure got through with the message #madebysweden to the target audience through the massive engagement online.
But from an online marketing perspective, what can we learn from this ad?
Is This A Great Commercial?
The online discussion has mostly been about whether this is a great ad or not. But great ads are ads that sell product and Volvo will soon know.
But everyone seems to agree that the production value is off the charts — at least for a Swedish commercial. Remember, we’re a small market.
And if the initial target was to get people talking and sharing, it’s safe to say that Volvo accomplished that mission.
Some online experts have said that this is content marketing, but I’d say that that is a stretch. It doesn’t contain much of a storyline and it’s not editorial in any way.
All in all, some where expecting more, others were blown away. And in the end — sales will tell.
Building Blocks Of A Viral Ad
I often say that “viral is not a strategy”. But the Volvo ad is one of those rare exceptions:
They have Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And it’s basically his first major commercial. That alone merits an online conversation.
They have the Volvo brand. We shouldn’t forget that Volvo is interesting in itself and they’ve consciously built their brand recognition for decades.
They have a premier ad agency. The agency behind the ad is the same agency who in 2013 made the smash hit The Epic Split with Jean-Claude Van Damme.
They have a strong theme. Nationalism is a strong theme in Sweden right now, especially this election year with scary forces lurking in the shadows.
They have Max Martin. Don’t know who Max Martin is? Check out this quick-paced video below and you’ll get a sense of what type of advantage this is.
In essence, Volvo isn’t leaving anything to chance. With this kind of setup, it would be almost more difficult not to create a widely shared and discussed ad.
So if you want to create a viral message, and you want to take chance out of the equation, THIS is the level of commitment you’re looking at.
3 Learnings From Volvo’s Zlatan Campaign
Build hype. Releasing a series of well-produced trailers. Floating quotes from Zlatan. Building a story based upon how inspired Zlatan was by the earlier Volvo-collaboration with Swedish House Mafia. And surfacing articles about Max Martin.
Target emotions. It’s not a secret: We share when we get an emotional reaction. Very few corporate messages are highly emotional. It’s easy to step over this fine line and become melodramatic, but relevance and authenticity will get you far.
Piggyback. Even smaller brands with smaller budgets can piggyback on the fame of influencers. You might not get Zlatan onboard, but there’s plenty of room for creativity here.
… even if also Enya and Jean-Claude Van Damme is out of your league: