Jean-Claude Van Damme youtube screengrabLearning to do a split is challenging enough, but doing a split while balancing on top of two semi-trucks moving in reverse…is that even possible? The YouTube video that Volvo Trucks created was extremely impressive. Millions watched, some in disbelief, as martial arts professional, Jean-Claude Van Damme stood on two moving trucks and slowly slid into a split. Before continuing on, I insist that you watch this YouTube video first which teases the actual Volvo Trucks YouTube video. In this teaser video Jean-Claude learns about the stunt he is being asked to perform; see how he reacts.

The YouTube video was created to display the precision handling of Volvo Trucks, by Swedish independent agency Forsman & Bodenfors. The video became incredibly popular and was soon spread by millions via social media.  “The basic idea for the campaign was that it would work on two levels,” said Sophia Lindholm, one of the creatives who worked on the project, in an article on campaign. “Most people will think ‘wow, Jean-Claude van Damme’ but the core audience will think ‘wow, two trucks are able to drive like this,’” Lindholm said. The Volvo team admits they didn’t expect the ad to do as well as it did.  Martin Ringqvist, another creative who worked on the project disclosed, “We thought it might be the most interesting ad of the campaign [it was the sixth ad in a wider campaign advertising the new Volvo FM]. But we didn’t imagine that would be as huge as this.”

Jean-Claude-Van-DammeRegardless of Volvo’s anticipated or non-anticipated results, the YouTube video did exceedingly well. A spokeswoman from Volvo Trucks told Campaign, “We’ve had an incredible upsurge of interactions and awareness among our target groups, noticeable in social media and online, as well as via our global network of dealers.” It would appear that the YouTube video went beyond expectations and provided positive results for Volvo Trucks.

The YouTube video has over 74 million views to date, it had about 60 million overnight when it was first launched in November 2013. A lot of positive feedback came from YouTube fans, “[Still] watching this video, again and again, and still impressed!”  Another fan posted, “WoW! precision at it’s finest, where do I get one of these Volvo trucks!? “

jean-claude-van-damme-volvo-split-2Success continued, according to Adweek, when the ad won the Best in Show prize at the New York Festivals International Advertising Awards.  “The Epic Split” video according to New York Festivals, “was the most viewed automotive commercial on YouTube with 70 million views, 6 million shares on social networks, 6th in YouTube’s Top Ten trending 2013, and thousands of spoofs added 50 million views. In total, extensive media coverage generated an earned media value of €87 million.” Let’s talk about why it worked.

1. Having a Wow-Factor: “The Epic Split” stunt is a wow-factor. An instance when something seems undoubtedly impossible and yet is being performed right before your eyes. This challenging and dangerous stunt held many in disbelief and amazement as they watched the YouTube video… and then re-watched it. Having a wow-factor pulls on human emotion. It drew in millions, and as a result, people shared it via social media and it was heavily talked about.

2. Going Beyond Limits: The act of having a man balance on two semi-trucks, while moving in reverse all while doing a split is something that had never been performed before. Volvo Trucks truly raised the bar in marketing by using innovation and creativity in its marketing campaign.

3. Using Social Media: By posting this on YouTube it was able to go viral overnight – which is something a TV commercial ad with limited and allotted air time likely couldn’t do. YouTube provided unlimited access to this amazing marketing campaign and allowed millions to watch it simultaneously.

The Volvo Trucks video had me watching it over and over again, and it obviously had millions of others doing the same thing. Volvo had made its name standout, with Jean-Claude leading the way with his Epic Split. Make sure to come back next week to learn how a recent New York Police Department Twitter campaign was turned completely upside down and what we can learn from it.

Stay tuned…



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