Volvo Launches Heavily Digital Marketing Effort for SUV

$20 Million Campaign Integrates Broadcast TV, iTV, Internet and Wireless Devices

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NEW YORK ( -- In its most aggressive digital marketing effort to date, Volvo North America has kicked off a 14-week campaign integrating a Web site, online ads, e-mail, wireless phone, PDA and iTV into a push for the XC90 sport utility vehicle.

The Volvo XC90 gets a heavily interactive marketing campaign aimed at the college football audience.

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College football
The campaign offers fans watching college football games on Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and ESPN the ability to use a variety of digital devices to access sports content, scores and stats and participate in in-game polling.

Volvo's multimedia program for the XC90 SUV employs wireless phones, Palm and Windows CE handheld devices, enhanced TV through ABC and Wink's interactive TV platform, e-mail marketing, newspaper, TV and online advertising. Online advertising includes hundreds of local college football fan sites.

'Beyond novelty'
"We're beyond looking at these new platforms as a novelty," said Phil Bienert, manager for customer relationship marketing and e-business at Volvo. "Every element of this campaign has to contribute to the business. We're trying not to leave any touch-point untouched."

The goal is to drive consumers to electronically opt-in to research and request information about the XC90 SUV and request a price quote.

The automaker said it is committing 20% of its media budget to the "Volvo XC90 Winning Drive Sweepstakes," which debuted with the start of the college football season earlier this month. The sweepstakes offers a chance to win a trip for seven to the college football championship in New Orleans in January 2004. The No. seven is a reference to the SUV's seven-seat passenger capacity.

$20 million effort
The automaker said it has sold 26,351 XC90s from the vehicle's November 2002 launch to Sept. 1. From January to June, Volvo spent $21.4 million in offline measured media to market the XC90, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR; CMR tracked no online measured media for the same period. It is estimated Volvo will spend at least $20 million to support the XC90 during the fourth quarter.

A billboard outside ABC's Good Morning America Times Square studio is also part of the media plan. Havas' Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners and Euro RSCG Circle, both New York, are Volvo's agencies of record. Interactive production house Kirt Gunn & Associates, New York, also works with Volvo.

The wireless content is packaged by AvantGo. That content has the potential to reach significant numbers of wireless subscribers, as Volvo has partnered with AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Nextel and Sprint PCS. Volvo will make the content available to subscribers who have short-message-service capabilities and WAP-enabled handsets. ABC's iTV platform will enable Volvo and the network to deliver synchronized sports content to fans via TV and the Web.

Volvo has been a high-profile new-media advertiser, having executed integrated marketing programs around National Collegiate Athletic Association sports in 2000 and 2001. "We know that integration works," Bienert said. He indicated that integrated online-offline campaigns during the past year have resulted in increases of as much as 700% in the number of consumers responding to offers related to contests, surveys and further information opt-in programs.

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