The strategy, which hopes to not stray from the Swedish carmaker's fundamental "safety" brand image, is an attempt to expand its appeal to younger buyers and older empty-nesters.
"We are broadening our perspective by developing products for new customers without ever sacrificing our core values," said Tuve Johannesson, chairman, president and CEO of Volvo Car Corp.
C70 TIES WITH `SAINT'
The plan gets under way in the U.S. in March, when Volvo's all-new C70 coupe appears in Paramount Pictures Corp.'s movie, "The Saint." The estimated $10 million Paramount tie-in lets Volvo link its ads with the film.
Volvo of North America's agency, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, is creating a TV spot.
Volvo is following an earlier tie-in of BMW of North America that was highly successful. BMW sold out its first Z3 roadster early last year with a tie-in with the James Bond movie "GoldenEye," from MGM/United Artists.
And it's not the only one aping this trend: Mercedes-Benz of North America will launch its all-new M-Class All-Activity Vehicle this fall in "The Lost World," the "Jurassic Park" sequel from Universal Pictures.
Mercedes' successful repositioning in recent years caught Volvo's attention, said a prominent Volvo dealer. Volvo will probably have "lifestyle-type repositioning ads," the dealer said. "That's the corporate thought as these new products roll out."
Bob Austin, director of marketing communications at Volvo of North America, said about 85% of Volvo owners are married with children, with a median age of 39.
"One of the problems with 39 is you'll own a lot of cars before you're 39 and have children and after your children are grown. We want to spread the appeal of Volvo past family people without disenfranchising our core customers," he said.
`DYNAMIC, EMOTIONAL ASPECTS'
Ads still will emphasize Volvo's core values, he said. "We'll add the dynamic and emotional aspects to the brand."
A convertible C70 will follow the coupe, arriving next year. It will be the carmaker's first ragtop in 40 years.
Briton Peter Horbury, Volvo's design director in Sweden, may have given hints about the car's ad theme when introducing the convertible at the Detroit auto show earlier this month.
"This is a car for the senses," he said in explaining how the C70 appealed to each human sense.
Mr. Horbury also hinted that upcoming Volvos are even snazzier than the convertible, saying "you ain't seen nothing yet."