Volvo and Special Group bring new meaning to the term blindspot for new car launch

Youtube VideoYou’ve probably heard of a blind taste test. But a blind test drive?

Well, that’s what Volvo, Special Group and a couple of kerrazzee Kiwi racecar (palindrome alert) drivers got up to recently at Hampton Downs to launch the new Volvo S60 sedan. The force is obviously strong in Jonny Reid, because, with the help of his assistant, Earl Bamber, he got up to a highest speed of 193khm and clocked an impressive 1.28 for the lap.

Stephen Kenchington, general manager of Volvo Cars NZ, says the online campaign, the first directorial foray into TV for renowned stills photographer Paul Jones, is intended to give the public an understanding that “if you forget about the badge on the front you can truly judge how good a car really is—all perceptions aside.”

For many, Volvo still has a reputation as that safe, boxy, conservative Swedish brand; the company that created sensible station wagons with about as much charisma as a packet of ready salted chips. Its recent “dynamic and exciting” iterations, however, particularly the C30 and the range of crossover cars, have tried to move away from that slightly staid image and appeal more to the yoof (check out this French ad, which bears quite a resemblance to the recent spot for VW by DDB NZ).

“It’s about taking the blinkers off…” he says. Or, in this case, putting them on.

Volvo NZ wanted a fresh approach, so indie darlings Special Group were chosen as the agency for the job. And, while it was intended to be made solely for online, the end result looked so good it might possibly end up on TV.

“The concept was quite radical, particularly for Volvo who are renowned for their advanced safety features and technology, so when we started developing the idea, safety was foremost in our minds,” says Special Group’s Michael Redwood. “Hence it was shot using two of New Zealand’s top racing drivers, Jonny Reid and Earl Bamber, on a completely closed track.”

It’s certainly got a whiff of Top Gear about it, with brooding shots of sped up clouds and establishing shots of the lines on the track. And it probably has the potential to fall foul of the safe driving campaigners. But, people like Top Gear. And kerrazzeee stunts. And amazing heli-cameras. And it’s certainly more intriguing than a car weaving around a windy mountain road. So, as far as notoriously by the numbers car ads go, we quite likey.


Agency: Special

Creative Directors: Tony Bradbourne & Rob jack

Creatives: Antony Wilson & Iain MacMillan

Producer: Fiona Champtaloup

Director: Paul Jones

Media Planning and buying: Di Rice @ GI Media.

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