Volvo is boosting the digital portion of its U.S. media spend by 40% this year. A chunk of that is going to a social media effort housed on #Swedespeak Tweetchat, a platform the Rockleigh, N.J.-based Volvo Cars U.S. created last year.
The chat, which launched in May 22, supports an integrated brand effort, via Boston-based Arnold Worldwide Team Volvo. The umbrella campaign has a theme around ostentatious luxury versus the understated upscale motif that Volvo is meant to represent. Volvo is using the chat both to roll out new creative and as a kind of virtual focus group to get feedback from fans about the creative, per Tassos Panas, North American CMO.
Panas tells Marketing Daily that the company has been engaging its fans and followers for a year via the monthly chat on Twitter. Until now, however, the focus has been principally on vehicle attributes, "with maybe a guest speaker or our CEO," he says.
"This is the first time we have shown people the campaign early. So we have embraced the social media side of the business not only as way to talk to consumers, but also as a test bed for creative," says Panas. "It helped us fine-tune the campaign."
Has it? Well, one ad -- it features a Chihuahua dressed to the nines -- was hauled back on its leash because it rubbed owners of barking raisins the wrong way. Panas says plans had been to put that ad on out-of-home.
Panas says traffic and fan numbers have doubled since the social creative-opinion effort launch. "It's creating good conversations; people enjoy being part of [the creative process]. Feedback helps us find the right balance."
About half of Volvo's Facebook fans are current or prior owners and half just have an affinity for the brand, per Panas, who says paid media on digital drives some of that traffic.
The company has, in the past, drawn on crowdsourced content from Volvo owners to extoll the virtues of the brand. Most famous among these is Irvin Gordon, the guy who became a Volvo icon of sorts for driving his Volvo P1800S something like 3 million miles. There have also been hubs for owners to post photos, trip videos, and safety-themed content. Panas says Volvo will reprise these elements for the 2014 model-year vehicles.
"We definitely feel there are a group of people who don't need to flaunt; when we do research with owners, they tell us that's how they feel. That is the characteristic we are honing in on with this campaign."