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"Bloody Volvo Driver" Campaign a Bloody Success

15 December, 2003

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According to the latest research data, Volvo Car Australia's Bloody Volvo Driver national advertising campaign is achieving remarkable, positive results.

"The unique advertising campaign has broken through many boundaries for Volvo in Australia," said Steve Blyth, Volvo Car Australia managing director. "This latest data confirms what our pre-campaign researched predicted. For the Volvo brand to move forward in Australia, we had to attack the brand's image as well as correct the wrong image of Volvo drivers."

"Despite the comments from some industry and marketing experts who claim the campaign is a mistake and that it has backfired, I can now confidently say this latest research data vindicates our decision to run the BVD campaign," said Blyth.

Blyth continues: "The BVD campaign is now entering its third phase, and during this phase we'll invite people to become Bloody Volvo Drivers by using our strongest models and features to provide rational reasons to consider Volvo. This campaign is just the first part of the Bloody Volvo strategy, and we have a lot of exciting things coming in 2004, so watch this space."

A 10-week tracking study undertaken by Blue Moon Research and Planning shows conclusively that the Bloody Volvo Driver campaign is effective and is gaining momentum.

Overall, in a total sample size of 350 people [collected in the 10 weeks from September 20 to November 29] , 49 percent of those surveyed recognised the Bloody Volvo Driver tagline that boldly underscores the campaign.

And the campaign is gaining momentum. More than 80 percent of those surveyed within the last four weeks [November 8 to November 29] recognised the Bloody Volvo Driver tagline. "This is an amazing result," said Greg Clark, director of Blue Moon, commissioned by Volvo Car Australia to survey the BVD campaign. "Four out of five people that we interview now recognise the line 'Bloody Volvo Driver'," said Clark.

Blue Moon researchers questioned 18 to 65 year olds who had purchased a new car within the past three years in Melbourne or Sydney. Forty percent of those surveyed presently owned a Volvo; 40 percent owned a competitor brand; and 20 percent of those questioned were catagorised as general public.

The real proof that the campaign is extremely successful is the dramatic increase in those who are considering to purchase a Volvo and those who intend to purchase a Volvo. Those considering to purchase a Volvo has increased from 22 percent to 34 percent of those questioned. The far more impressive result of the Bloody Volvo Driver campaign's effect in generating attention and changing brand image is clearly evident in those who intend to purchase a Volvo. "We are seeing better than an 80 percent increase [12 percent to 22 percent] in intent to purchase," said Clark. "Any car advertiser would be extremely thrilled with the result of such a large move in such a short time of an established brand."

The survey concerns five specific advertisements: Motorcycle (an aware XC90 driver avoids a head-on collision with a motorcycle), Trolley (two men impact shopping trolleys in a supermarket aisle), Traffic Light (a Volvo driver patiently waits for a dozy Mercedes-Benz E320 driver), Style (a couple is distracted by an S60 AWD), and Police (a Dutch policeman driving an S60 R stops a Porsche driver).

Of these five, the 30-second Police ad seems to be the statistically the most effective with 85 percent of those who claim to have seen the ad correctly identify it as a Volvo ad.

In terms of changing brand image, the data indicates a positive shift in perceptions toward Volvo being seen as less boring, as being less likely to be seen as a car for older drivers, and as being more performance oriented. The same data reveals no erosion to Volvo's image of being a safe and family-oriented brand.

Clark admits that the 10-week sample size is small but the trends are clear. "If the campaign has a weakness - and the findings cited above would not support the view that it does - it is in the area of communicating beyond the Bloody Volvo Drive tagline, and the other messages contained in the ads are only coming through at a low level," said Clark.

The Rattle ad (where a mother in the driver's seat of an XC90 takes a noisy rattle away from a three-year-old girl) was not included in the research. The Rattle ad first aired on October 18 - seven weeks into the campaign. Reliable data on the Rattle ad won't be realised for several weeks.

"The Rattle ad (airing after 8:30pm) has generated an enormous amount of attention," said Blyth.

He continues ... "and the Advertising Standards Board has received complaints about the ad because the young girl uses the word bloody." The Advertising Standards Board reviewed the Rattle ad and on November 11 dismissed those complaints.

Blue Moon will track the effectiveness of the BVD campaign until the last week of January. "As we've said before, a vital component of the BVD campaign strategy is the ability to gauge how we are progressing and when the job is done," said Blyth.

Coincidental perhaps, radio station 5RN in Adelaide reported on November 27 that South Australian Parliament Speaker Peter Lewis finds no reason to disallow members of parliament from using the word bloody in parliament. "Bloody is an oath - By Our Lady - arising from the ancient English of Chaucer's day in the 13th Century. It has nothing to do with gore or blood," said Lewis in an excerpt of parliament.

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