Real car salespeople don't have lines like this: "Let me show you the Volvo that saved my life."
But that's the pitch real auto crash survivors delivered to car shoppers in a campaign from New York agency We Believers.
The agency brought an important insight to life in its "Survivor Sales Agents" effort for Volvo. It found that car buyers tend to give priority to superficial features over safety, until they've survived a serious crash. So the shop recruited people who had lived through a major car accident to staff a Volvo stand at two Miami shopping malls in April, and talked with prospective car buyers about their life-changing experience.
There are about 5 million car accidents a year in the U.S., causing more than 37,000 deaths in 2016 alone. With the help of Volvo and production company Letca Films, We Believers found and recruited a dozen car crash survivors. Their training was simple, including a conversation with real Volvo car dealership sales staff, but mostly they described their accidents, and how being in a Volvo had saved their lives.
"All of them are huge Volvo fans," said Gustavo Lauria, co-founder and chief creative officer of We Believers. "One of them still has a Volvo as a Facebook picture profile."
At the Volvo stand, one woman showed prospective customers a copy of her X-rays. Another survivor said that at the scene of his accident 'the paramedic said to the fireman that she was going to get a Volvo like mine."
The malls were both located close to Volvo dealerships. We Believers said that the stand attracted 60% more visitors than would normally stop at a car activation at a mall, and that three out of 10 people who stopped did a test drive. Most of those then visited a dealership to get a Volvo.
While Volvo has long-been known as a brand superior for its safety, this effort delivered the idea in a very real, powerful way.
We Believers has done these small but highly impactful activations for Volvo before. Two years ago, the agency hijacked fans of other luxury cars by creating fake ads that popped up at the top of Google searches for Mercedes or BMW, and offered those potential customers free rides to those brands' dealerships. But the rides were in Volvos, driven by Volvo sales execs who had a priceless opportunity to talk up their brand's merits to people about to buy a car.