Seventy million views, a reported 30 percent increase in Volvo truck sales, a new kick-start to Van Damme’s career–what’s not to like?
The video does a lot of things right. Here are two reasons why it works so well and one thing it could have done better.
A video like this is similar to a conversation with the viewer. In any conversation, the speaker makes an implied promise to the person receiving the message. Volvo promises that the receiver will find the message worthy of attention. All persuasive messages make this implied promise but many fail to deliver, disappointing the receiver and failing to persuade. Volvo delivered. Not only were all viewers glued to the screen, they wanted their friends to see it as well. Volvo followed the first law of conversation—have something to say that people want to hear.
Secondly, Volvo showed people how to feel the way they want to feel. In the future, the viewer will associate driving a Volvo truck with the awesome control, confidence and capability they see both the truck and Van Damme display. By driving a Volvo truck, the viewer can earn a little of Van Damme’s swagger. The music’s eerie combination of calmness and danger enhances the feeling.
But there’s one aspect that Volvo could have handled better. The most effective conversations never say what receivers themselves can provide. When you tell people something they can figure out for themselves, you come off as condescending, possibly insulting. Why superimpose, “This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering–isn’t that obvious? Why not just super a Volvo logo? If people needed help figuring anything out, it was the answer to the question of who makes those amazing trucks.