Volvo Closing In On Helmer For Web Film

Project sure to be measured against BMW Films

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% Volvo is close to signing a contract with a major movie director to shoot a mini Internet film that will serve as the backbone of next January's launch of the all-new S40 sedan. The Web will play an integral role in the overall launch, which will also contain print and outdoor efforts.

The Swedish marque, owned by Ford Motor Co., is using the Internet because the S40's target market of 27- to 35-year olds are heavy users of the Internet, according to Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo Cars' VP-global marketing.

Volvo's Amsterdam-based ad agency, MVBMS Fuel Europe, has already written a script for the mini Internet film, which will emphasize the Scandinavian design of the car's premium interior, unlike the action equity highlighted by BMW in its celebrated Web series, "The Hire." To date more than 45 million people have visited bmwfilms.com to watch the shorts.

"We have sort of an inside-out approach. The interior is very innovative with its [design], its space, its functionality. So we really will try to get people into the car and experience the interior," Kerssemakers said.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% Another reason for relying on the Internet is that Volvo only sells around 400,000 cars a year, so it has a comparatively small marketing budget next to German luxury brands. It has to take a more cost-effective approach, according to Kerssemakers.

Volvo became sold on the Internet based on its success in 2000 when it became the first major car launch in the U.S. to rely entirely on banner advertising on America Online. That AOL promotion generated more than 1 million visits to revolution.com, where users experienced the S60 online and were offered a special package of additional options worth up to $2,500.

Most recently, Volvo North America kicked off a 14-week campaign integrating such elements as a Web site, online ads, e-mail and wireless platforms into a push for the XC90 sport utility vehicle (Ad Age Sept. 16).

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